It Shits Me That He Swore

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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.

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  • KezUnprepared

    Firstly, that lady had no sense of humour for a parent. If I saw a toddler swearing and his shocked parent’s face, I’d have a little giggle because TODDLER. Don’t worry about her.
    Secondly, I am terrified because if I’m completely honest, I am not perfect at remembering not to swear and I do accidentally drop the s word a bit. I know it will all catch up to me if I do not get my act together!!
    I think that judging from the conversation, Max is actually a very good boy because he was just using you as a sounding board in knowing that “fucking” is a bad word to say. He knew that if you say it you get in trouble and was just confirming that knowledge. It’s not like he said it to rile you up or out of defiance.
    I think you have a very lovely little boy (a product of wonderful parenting)! And yes, it does rattle you when you see your very small child lose their innocence teeny bit by teeny bit. Hugs!

  • Sonia@ LIfe Love and Hiccups

    Oh hun… yep that look that parents give you should be banned, I am actually writing about it at the moment. I love that he asked you if you are happy now that is such a sweet thing to do and a sure sign you dont need to worry for a moment about this gorgeous kid of yours. My son couldnt say truck so used to scream Fuck Fuck at the top of his voice as we walked down the road. i got used to the look I got from other parents. Its when they use the word in context for the first time that makes me feel like handing in my parenting badge, xx

  • Chelsea Sutherland

    Oh bless him that he thought the police were coming to get him for swearing anyway!

    One of my roller derby teammates has a little girl (2? 3?) who says “fuck” instead of truck – so she will be walking down the street and actually be all “LOOK! FIRE FUCK! FIRE FUCK!”

    Also, my poor Mum has so much guilt over my younger sister swearing. Verity grew up with Dad as the stay at home parent while he was building a house in the Whitsundays. So while I’m sure Dad tried, for a long time there whenever Verity needed something (at all of 2 years old) it would be “Where the fuck’s my dummy?” or “Where’s the fucking peanut butter”. Anyway, fast forward a couple of years and she could no longer say F, she’d pronounce it as Th instead (eg Thriday) and Mum had to drive her 40mins each way 3 x a week to Bowen for speech therapy. Mum is convinced that she must have given Verity a complex after the swearing period that stopped her being able to say any f word, haha!

  • Tessa White

    MIne have yet to say anything truly shocking in public and I have no idea how?! I too kept my bad language for adult company in the early days but of late I am sure, in fact I know they have heard some choice words and some even directed as them.
    As for the parent who directed glares.. up yours lady, as if a little man at Max’s age even has a clue!!

  • Sonia from Sonia Styling

    I NEVER swore as a kid and look how I turned out. Rest assured, Max will be one fine adult. You have my fucking word.

  • rhian @melbs

    It’s horrible isn’t it when you hear it from their innocent little mouths. I know exactly how you feel I’ve been there too. Still going through it but seem to be coming out of it I think. Lets hope this is the one and only time your little man comes out with it.

  • Alicia-OneMotherHen

    This wont be the last time he embarrasses you in public, it’s one of their main jobs as a kid! At least he associates the f word with bad behaviour.
    My youngest says it quite by accident when she tries to say whack, my hubby actually had a go at me(because it would be my fault if she swears and he’s probably right). He actually thought she was saying ‘fuck you’ but she was saying ‘I whack you’.

  • Smaggle

    I’m an older cousin of about 8 and I spent the better part of my childhood trying not to laugh when one of my younger cousins swore. My niece totally outed her mum for road raging tell us this hilarious story about how ‘Mummy was driving and this car came up the side and Mummy yelled ‘Fucken shit fucken shit’!’. Her mum wasn’t there but my sister in law and I were biting holes in each other trying to not to laugh. It’s no biggie. Happens all the time and you certainly aren’t to blame. I’m a teaching so my swearing has cut right back over the past few years and now I get teased by my friends because my swearing is so twee. I say ‘sugar!’ a lot and also ‘crash bang!’ if I drop something.

  • Erin Cunningham

    Lol… I remember my Miss 5’s first swear word. It shocked me beyond belief but what shocked me most was that she used it in the correct context, “this seatbelt is sh*tting me”. It hardest not to laugh at the absurdity of it all, but rest assured, it’s only a scratch on the surface of parenting fun.

  • Shari

    I’m worried because I know there will be some people who will think it is funny to teach my one year old to swear. I’m not from that school of thought. How can I stop them?

  • Jackie @ Hippie Mumma

    My friend has a daughter 3 weeks younger than me daughter (20 months). At our last dinner together the father told me their daughter had said “fucking hell” while sitting on his lap while he tried to fix the computer (he had only muttered it). I said I would of felt shameful and a bit if a parent fail but he said they just laughed so much and gave it no thought as she didn’t know the meaning. She is really advanced at talking, not even being 2 and stringing small sentences together. If she was mine I would be so worried haha but I had to have a laugh. I guess all people react differently. You handled it quite well :)