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Guest Post: Rated "R" First Grader – What Happens When Good Kids Say Bad Words.

Readers, meet Eli.

It seems to happen to me a lot lately, and I don’t think it’s because I’m losing my mind but I can’t always pinpoint the exact origins of some of my blogging relationships. Today’s guest poster, Eli, is no exception. I think it’s because the blogging relationships I am forming lately are so meaningful and genuine that it feels like we’ve just always been in each other’s courts. (my first sports metaphor, inspired by you, Eli!) Maybe I commented on his blog. Maybe he commented on mine. Maybe it was his guest poster – another jennifer – writing on his blog about driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Who wouldn’t want to read about that? He’s a wonderful storyteller with incredible stories about life with his kids that draw you right in, and he posts thoughtful and humorous answers to a wide variety of questions that his daughters ask him. You all know I like humor. You all know I like heart. Well when you read how Eli combines them both so beautifully, I promise you’ll have a smile on your face. Let’s give him a warm welcome.

(Editor’s note: All photos are Tamara Camera Photography’s photos in case you wondered if Eli has a daughter that looks miraculously like mine! This is our collaboration. Words, thoughts, ideas – all wonderfully his. Photos – mine.)

He will take it from here.


Ah, @#$! What to do when your first-grader starts dropping the bleepity-bleep.

“I know five bad words.”

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My youngest daughter declared this to me once, when she was 6. She might as well have said, “I learned a new soccer move,” or “I caught a praying mantis today.”

Matter-of-fact. Conversational. But beneath, a challenge.

She didn’t even look up.

Marie, her big sister, did. She looked right at me, raised her eyebrows, pursed her lips, and waited for my answer.

These are the moments of truth for us dads. Moments moms can point and fuss. Moments kids can recount, for psychiatrists. Moments teachers can note, during parent-teacher conferences.

How would your guy react?

a) “Yeah? Well, I know 55.”

b) “How many rhyme with truck or spit? Go test them out on the pastor on Sunday.”

c) “Have you been riding in Charlotte traffic with your grandma again?”

I said: “So? What are they?”

She ran them down. Most fell into the ‘mild’ camp – shut up, jackass, ass. One was decent. None would get you kicked off a radio talk show. I nodded, displayed limited enthusiasm (can’t go wacky until the f-bomb drops), and listened.

And then it was over.

Yes, hearing a kid curse is kind of funny. But that wasn’t the purpose here.

Rather than toss a shroud of guilt over a weak-sauce bottle of curse words, I let Grace have her say. Kept the communication open.

“Those are pretty decent,” I postulated. “You’ll learn better ones when you get older.”

Marie smiled. I know she learned some on a soccer pitch in Mt. Pleasant a few years ago.

If a daughter is OK telling a dad what bad words she learned or which boys are cute or why she thinks it’s a bad idea to spend $5 on wine but not on chicken nuggets, it’s a good day for a dad. (The same holds true for sons, I’m sure.)

Because then maybe when she’s older, she’ll tell me when her bestie is sneaking into her dad’s downstairs bar or that another kid likes to drive too fast or a couple of girls want her to try cigarettes.

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I can stop, listen, and react.

Grace the other day added two words to her arsenal. One was “wretched.” The other rhymes with split. She said Marie taught her the first one. The second?

My money’s on grandma.

They’ll only get worse, I know. But her being able to tell dad about them?

Seems like a pretty @%#! good thing to me.

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When he’s not hating on Disney Channel shows and trying to bring the mustache back, Eli writes a blog called Coach Daddy, dedicated to fatherhood, food, and futbol – not always in that order.

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  1. Having my stuff over here is like having a mirror that makes you look thinner and handsomer. I'm going to stick around a while.Great to be here! Thanks for the shot on the big stage, Tamara.

  2. Hahaha I LOVED this, I could totally picture the scenario that went down with your daughters. I don't often get to read things from a dad's perspective, this was great 🙂 Awesome writing btw, really had me engaged!{My 2 year old says a word that rhymes with truck. Bad, I know.}

    1. Thanks Jessica – I think the older kid wanted to see how old dad was going to handle it. I don't really read much from the dad's perspective, either, outside of my own writing, and I'm now wondering what that says about me – or dads at large.Thanks for the compliment – I always aim for the engaging over the tortuous, but you never know which one you get until someone pipes up, you know?2-year-olds like to rhyme at random, and they also like to repeat … in your case, is this something he just pulled up like the Electric Company does, or did he hear mom say it?

  3. I love Eli's blog! The soccer thing is a big one for me…we live and breathe it over here, which I get the feeling is the case over at Eli's place too! Great post! My kids know way too many bad words…many of which probably came from from me. (Hanging my head in shame)

    1. Thanks Michelle, I happen to love yours, too, which makes this sentence not awkward (can you imagine if I really didn't like yours? I'd have to brush over your compliment like when we meet someone who remembers our name but we don't remember theirs … "Hi, Eli!""Oh, hi ….. (mumbled attempt at what might be their name)Living and breathing soccer isn't such a bad thing, until it comes to sweaty shin guards. Otherwise, it's good living.So long as your kids practice good grammar when cursing, you have much to be thankful for. Nothing's worse than bad use of a bad word.

    2. Well my head is hung in shame too. My daughter is four and knows an astonishing amount of bad words. And the kicker is that she taught her baby brother a bad "d" word!

    3. Blue language is the gift that keeps on giving, you know. Just think, that's something we've passed down from our forefathers and foremothers for generations, without fail. Heck, we even add to the allotment now and then.By astonishing amount, are we talking, double-digits?

  4. Oh the fun we've had in this house with bad words.. I love it when they tattle on their siblings and use them to tell you what they said. It's like a cussing "get out of jail free" card because they're not "using" them.. they're telling us what happened. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes, bad words can sometimes be fun. I know, why do they think that it's OK for them to use the word if they're telling on their sibling for doing it?Oh yeah, probably because their parents are laughing about it.Thanks Kristen!

  5. Ah, the discovery of new words – we are experiencing some of that at our house, too. There are five years between my children, so I have a feeling that my youngest's "descriptive vocabulary" skills will benefit from an older brother who is eager to share all he knows. Like you, I will be glad to have them talk to me about it – because big or little, it all matters when it comes to our relationships with our children.

    1. It's technically an expansion of vocabulary, and without bad words, how is a child to know how good good words are? There's a trove of secrets siblings have to pass on to the younger set, including how to sneak cookies without parents noticing, and what the upper-tier bad words are.And the open conversation is the takeaway here – I love that my kids will talk to me, even if it includes some bleepable moments.

  6. It is great to see Eli over here today! His blog is always a great read.I think it is definitely a good sign when your kid can openly talk about things with you. My daughter is very anti-bad words, but if asked, she could come up with a fairly comprehensive list.

    1. It's great to be here, Tracie – had to wipe my feet and take off my ballcap as I came in. Glad you like my blog – you know I'm a big fan of yours, too.There are times the girls will talk to me about things and inside I'm fist-pumping, because I love that it's happening, but I don't want to act as if I've never been there, lest they stop sharing, so I am good at bottling up my euphoria at just that moment.Hey, just because you know them, doesn't mean you have to use them … I have a feeling some kids of some commenters on this blog more than make up for it. Right, Tamara, Jessica and Michelle?

  7. Hello Eli, nice to meet you. What an interesting take on this occurrence. I don't have children but my only reaction to my little cousin calling me a name one time when he was young was to pop him while his auntie was laughing because she thought it was funny. I agree, it is kind of humorous to hear a kid drop an ugly word like its nothing. However, I know his Mother doesn't allow that and I don't appreciate people behaving inappropriately in front of children that aren't usually in that environment. See, I know he had picked that word up from the auntie that thought it was SOOO funny! Anywho, I will keep this in mind when the day comes for my own.

    1. Good to meet you too, Joi. I'm all about giving women a glimpse at the messy, sauce-stained makings of the male mind. I wouldn't think it's funny at all for my kid to call someone a bad word … I know that might be picking nits, but seriously, it's one thing for a kid to drop a "damn!" but it's another thing entirely to call someone, especially a family member, a name. That's just disrespectful.In Spanish, "mijo" (pronounced MEE-hoh) is a term of endearment for an adult to a child. (mija if it's a girl). I called my uncle mijo once, and he told me, "you better make that *uncle* mijo!" It was about respect. As it was with you.If my kids ever call you something, you have my permission to thunk them in the forehead.

  8. Oh to the dirty words phase! My grand son is goingthrough that right now. He likes to say the "s" word. Looks like I might have a new favorite blog to add to my list!

  9. Oh – I remember the days when my boys were little and they learned some of these words (or their versions of them). Mostly we just talked about what was acceptable to say and what wasn't – but with some of the words, I had to explain the proper way to use them. My 1st grader was running after his older brother and a friend calling them the F-bomb. Joy!!!

    1. It's a big deal when a kid moves from the S word meaning "stupid" to "sh*t.* In most cases, I demand proper usage of bad words. S and F are so versatile, because they can be verbs and nouns and the modify nouns like champs. I might have to write a blog about my top 5 songs with the F word in them. Or maybe top 3.

  10. Love it! My kids know a few bad words. When called out on it they blame Daddy. In reality it's probably more my fault. Daddy says them louder, but Mommy says them more often. I'm just glad my youngest thinks "stupid" is the worst word in the world!

    1. You're cracking me up. We give my daughter mixed messages! She'll drop a really bad word and we might laugh or try not to laugh. She says "stupid" and we're all, "Don't say such a mean word!" Same when she says "fat." I guess it depends on how these words are used that says how damaging they are. Anyway I had to chime in because I think it's the same in my house. Dad = louder. Mom = too often..

    1. Thanks Nicole – feels like I made the all-star team over here! Glad I found your blog, too. I'm just a mercenary sent to dispel (or confirm) the assumptions of what goes on between a dad's ears.

  11. believe it or not my daughter actually doesn't swear, she is 13 now and I really honestly can say I never heard her swear. One time a neighbor kid was swearing up a blue streak and my daughter was really mad and told her to go home 🙂

    1. If they give certificates for perfect attendance, they ought to give something even better to the kid who doesn't curse. It's all around them, in music, pop culture, their parents in traffic … so she's a rare specimen indeed.When she does curse someday, it will be a beaut.

  12. None of my kids have mentioned any bad words and I'm hoping when they do that they'll feel comfortable talking to me. For some reason I think its going to be Madison who learns them or speaks them first. She's the little devil! It's great to have that bond with your child one that hopefully won't ever be broken. I have to give Coach Daddy a read. Thank you Tamara for introducing him to me. 🙂 As usual lovely photos of the kids. <3

    1. I don't think I said a bad word in front of my mom until I was 15. Here's hoping Madison beats me there. Think of all the fun my mom missed out on! I really treasure the bond I have with each of my girls – especially when we get to talk on a long car ride.Thanks for giving me a read today!

  13. HA HA! My little one just dropped a bomb today! We're pretty sure it was an "Oh S**t"! I had to turn my head to prevent "okaying" the situation. Many tears later, I simply corrected her. Haven't heard it since and keeping my fingers crossed.

    1. Nice! Be sure to put that in the baby book. It's as important as pooping on the potty and the first day of kindergarten. Were you proud, mama? So long as she used it properly …

  14. I love this! When my son was two, he dropped a toy and said "sh!t." Time for us to start watching our language. I think it's awesome that your daughter told you about the swear words she learned and I think you handled it just perfectly. And, as always, gorgeous photos, Tamara!

    1. Thanks Kristi! Again, impressive that kids that young can use these bad words so properly. And it could have been much worse than sh*t. I figure, if you overreact, you're giving them the reaction they want, right?Tamara takes some awesome shots, and she picked the perfect ones for this post.

  15. Nice to meet you Eli – you have an awesome writing style!! I don't have my kids dropping many swears around here – but my problem is their sex talk! It can get pretty downright funny what they come up with. But, I think it's a good sign when they feel they can share!

    1. Thanks Leah, good to meet you too. Wow, sex talk? They must listen to morning drive-time radio. That's all that's about. I wore out the scan button on my car radio, but the kids won't let me just settle in on the safety of NPR.You ought to blog about it! I know all these jokers here would read it!

  16. Oooh – I think you're going to be the first Dad blogger I follow, Eli. I just browsed your blog and I loved it! You seem eerily similar to this guy I live with – and that's a good thing. And Tamara likes you, so that helps too. Nice to meet you!

    1. Sweet – feels like I'm a team captain or something. Glad you like it! I'm surprised that you got stuck with one of me too … I was sure there'd been a recall.Tamara's stamp of approval is significant. I had to give her $7, a stack of homemade tortillas and a gently used couch, but it was worth it.

    1. That happened to my brother..once. It was by his nanny and not my parents. I think he kinda liked it, to be honest. He was so weird. So then she stopped doing that one!

    1. Driving is the perfect time for colorful language – and also when playing disc golf, watching my Rockies blow a lead, and eating pizza too fast before it cools off (and burning the roof of my mouth).Don't worry – you'll get a note home when they start doing it at school. Straight into the baby book with that one.

  17. Thank you for introducing me to yet another wonderful blogger. I am laughing, such a calm and cool way to handle an uncomfortable parent moment.

    1. Wow, I feel like I just walked in on my kids' friend telling my kid what a great cook I am, or that I'm as handsome as Harry Styles. Or something. We dads are great at moving slowly at times like these.Thanks Stevie!

  18. Hearing your child swearing can be upsetting. Never taught my girl bad words but I suspect it is something she have heard from school or TV. Yes, hearing a kid curse is funny but laughing will only encourage the use of foul language. I told her ‘we don’t talk like that here’. And as a parents and a role model to our children, we must ensure we watch our own language. Glad you have Eli here. I enjoyed this post.http://herweightlossdiary.blogspot.com

    1. I think generally dads don't sweat it as much. Just like with any part of language, there's not a lot of teaching going on – but we do model. I used to be much better about not cursing around the kids, and I never ever do in front of my soccer teams.I definitely don't want them to make it a huge part of their vocabulary, especially when they play soccer, and even a single utterance can draw them a red card.Glad you enjoyed the post! As with everything in parenting, what we model speaks louder than what we teach!

  19. Oh this will be a blog I follow! I agree, letting them know that communication is open early on is key! I am laughing so hard at the wretched. It's amazing what kids consider bad thru life.

    1. That's @#$%! good news to me. The big part of keeping that communication going is to not judge or lash out, no matter how tempting. And yes, if she thinks "wretched" is a curse word, there's a little bit of gold there (on a side note, she thinks she knows the F word, but has the vowel wrong – something I will not correct, of course.)I do miss the days when "shut up" and "stupid" were the only bad words in the world.

  20. I wish the realization of my kids learning the not so innocent words of our language was as sweet as yours. I heard them, at the park, in surround sound it seems. Yeah, not my best parenting moment and I do admit, I laughed, hysterically. But it is true, keep the communication open with your littles so that they feel comfortable talking to you about anything at any part of their lives.

    1. It could have gone much worse, I realize. Did your kids at least use the words properly? It's hard not to laugh, I know. I mean, don't you love movies with lots of bad words? Maybe you and I are just immature. I love that they'll talk to me about stuff. I mean, not like, menstruation or stuff like that, but boys, baseball, bullies, stuff like that.

    1. Thanks Elaine – we dads sometimes come through! I figure if you don't make a huge fuss over it, they won't think it's a big deal, either.Good to meet you too – we were "acquaintances" on Google+, so I'll be sure to check out your blog, too.

  21. Is it completely terrible that my 4year old knows ALL the bad ones?! I swear he didn't get it from me! Thank goodness he doesn't repeat it. But I suppose the danger is knowing.

  22. I don't know but it'd sure be nice if more dads gave their point of view, us moms always love it! :)I wish I could blame something or someone…but no…I have a bad habit of yelling out profanities when I stub a toe or burn myself during dinner.

  23. Prepping for BlogHer has taken over my life this week, so I'm late to this party. I love the idea that the two of you may have been connected through my Wienermobile post! The hotdog has some power. I think it's a wonderful sign that Grace is sharing her bad words with you, Eli. And I think you handled it well! I think you should have Grandma do a guest post on the Coach Daddy Blog now too!

  24. I love this. I've been thinking about this more and more as my older son who's 6 is starting to test out some new words. I don't want to negatively react and give that word more power and meaning but it's also hard not to react. But I love that you asked her to name the words for you because you're right, if she can do that, hopefully she'll also come and tell you the real important stuff too. That's the kind of communication I want to be able to foster with my kids.

  25. Great response! It is kind of funny when they say bad words. Lots of things kids say are funny. It's so hard not to laugh when we should be having a diffetent type of conversation with them.

  26. No, I'd say he's an advanced learner, and, at this point, could become a sailor at age 12. I think it's 1/3 environment, 1/3 genetics, and 1/3 a gift we mortals can't fully understand. If he repeats it, claim responsibility only if he engages in proper usage of the said bad word (or words). That's my advice.

  27. That's OK – knowing that so many of the popular girls were going away, I decided to retreat to a cabin, fish in the ocean and avoid my razor for five days, anyway (it's what the dudes ought to do while y'all score swag and meet each other IRL, as you say.Wieners make the world go round, don't they? So it's not what's *in* hot dogs that counts, it's what comes *of* hot dogs. That's deep.A grandma guest post would probably be about Doctor Oz and animal care – unless she wrote it in Charlotte traffic, which would elicit all the curse words. It brings out the worst in all of us. I have to take yoga just to try and reverse its effects.

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