“Oh crap!” our daughter declared as she walked through the front door after school and dropped her backpack next to the dining room table. “I forgot my lunchbox at school. Harrumph!”
“Well hello to you kiddo,” I said looking up and trying not to laugh. It was so hard to keep a straight face; her tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language were just the perfect balance of drama and genuine feeling.
“Oh kah-rapppppp,” she said as her eyes widened before she slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand. “I guess I’m just gonna need to bring my lunch in a paper bag tomorrow. Dammit.”
The dammit came out in a barely audible whisper as she tried to steal a look in my direction. I saw the gears turning in her head as she hoped for a reaction.
“Whoa there sister,” I said raising my voice slightly as our eyes met. “You know better than to talk like that.” I paused to take a breath, barely able to hold back my laughter that suddenly stemmed more from shock than humor. “How about, darn I forgot my lunchbox? or Oh man, I forgot my lunch box.”
Just as I finished providing the alternative language, my husband entered the house.
“You are so lucky young lady that your mother didn’t hear what you just said. If she heard you she would be very upset. That language is NOT appropriate.” He stood directly in front of her, brows knitted together, his hands on his hips.
I looked at my husband in shock and confusion. His reaction seemed like an eight on the 10 point parenting scale. She only said crap and dammit … and I almost laughed … and how in the heck did you hear her, I thought.
“What’s up?” I asked totally bewildered and feeling guilty for finding such humor in the last 30 seconds. “What’d I miss?”
“I dunno,” our daughter said as she shrugged and walked out of the room the model of six year old innocence.
“I was grabbing something from the back of the car as she walked in the house. Didn’t you hear what she said?”
“Um, no,” I said raising my eyebrows at him curious as to what I missed.
“Her hand slipped on the doorknob and when it swung toward her she said “friggin’ door!”
“Ooooh, I seeee….” I let my voice trail off. That was something all together different. Although still a tiny bit funny. I tried hard not to smile, even a little bit.
In truth, if anyone else heard the crap, jerk, dammit, and friggin’ that we’d heard lately I would be embarrassed at the evidence of my obvious mothering failures. Although, admittedly the feelings of failure would be tempered by the knowledge that this was just another example of our daughter testing the boundaries and trying to get a reaction. How do you know the limits if you never bump up against them, right?
We’d been through a similar shock and awe campaign five years ago with our son. He too tested the limits of language, mostly in front of us, but from time to time when friends or family were around. We all survived and at almost 11 he isn’t foul mouthed, well, not that often anyway.
So bring it on Sister. Show me what you got. Test my self control. I’ll correct you, give you alternatives, and wait to laugh until you leave the room.