It Shits Me That He Swore
We were making our way back from the library weighed down by a bag full of books and a child that is reluctant to acknowledge that his feet are made for walking. His ears pricked up as he heard a passing police siren, few things excite Max like a services siren.
“I think it’s coming to get me Daddy”
“Why would it be coming to get you Max, what have you done?”
“I said fucking”
Of course it was said just loud enough for the passing Mum who had just collected her son from school to hear. I caught her eye as she looked at me in disbelief, I think was wearing the same expression, and was hit with a large dose of something that felt a bit like shame or guilt or sadness? I couldn’t help but think that that Mum probably looked at us and thought ‘bad parent, bad kid’ – I wanted to catch her up and explain that it wasn’t an everyday occurrence and it hadn’t come from me.
I came down to Max’s level and told him in no uncertain terms that it’s a word he shouldn’t use and that some words are off limits. In truth he had said it with all the confidence of someone that didn’t really know whether the word he was saying had any meaning whatsoever. After a few silent paces he asked me if I was “happy now?” which is what he says when he knows something has riled me. I gave him a big hug and told him I wasn’t angry with him and that he hadn’t done anything wrong.
I hate that he said that word. I suspect most parents struggle with the notion that their toddlers are anything other than perfect and him saying that word doesn’t make him imperfect but it certainly caught me by surprise. Don’t get me wrong I can swear with the best of them (in adult company) but there is something surreal about hearing it from the mouth of a toddler, my toddler.
It was the first time as a parent that I was forced to acknowledge that no matter how much you want to shelter or protect them from the unseemly bits and pieces of life, you can’t.