Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Learning to talk - (Beware: F-Bombs.)

            I have a two year old daughter who is a big talker, but like a lot of kids her age, she has trouble with certain sounds. Lately almost every vowel that comes out of her mouth sounds like “uh.” So our conversations go like this:
            “Fuhk.” She jabs her hand into the air in the direction of the kitchen counter.
            “What honey?”
            “Fuhk. Fuhk.”
            I go to the counter and randomly pick up objects –a wooden spoon, a ladle. “This? This?”
            “No! Fuhk!”
            “Point to it, honey,” I say as the sweat soaks through my shirt.
            I finally realize that she wants a fork, except she can’t have one because she’s only allowed to have them during mealtime lest she remove one of her sisters’ eyeballs with it.
            “Not now honey. You can have a fork at lunch time.”
            At which point she throws herself on the floor, kicking and screaming, “FUUUUUUUUUUUHK!!! FUUUUUUUUUUUUHK!!!”
            My thoughts exactly.
            She also has trouble making the “th” sound, and so she’ll substitute, “f” for it. This linguistic peccadillo becomes especially awkward when the grandparents come to visit.
            “Thank Grandpa for the new Elmo doll,” I say as I pick up torn wrapping paper from the floor.
            “Thak,” she says around the wad of red fur in her mouth.
            My heart leaps with hope. She almost said it right! “Take Elmo’s hand out of your mouth and speak clearly.”
            She sweetly obliges, climbs onto grandpa’s lap, places one chubby hand on either side of his face, and says quite clearly, “Fuhk you, Pop Pop.”
            My father is hard of hearing, and he bends his ear toward her. “What honey?”
            “Fuhk. You.”
            “What?” he says, refusing to believe his own senses.
            “FUHK! YOU!!!” she yells into his face, and runs off with Elmo trailing behind.
            Grandpa looks at me, pearly blue eyes clouded with confusion.
            “Just say you’re welcome,” I tell him.
            The problem is that anyone who knows my husband and me are aware we suffer from the condition of potty mouth. Like every conscientious couple, when I was pregnant we resolved to purge all swears from our vocabulary so that on the auspicious day we would be curse-free. For months we were pure of mouth and thought, somewhat, and on the inaugural day of our parenthood we believed we’d been adequately conditioned to avoid the salty side of the English language. The problem is that when you become a parent, your stress reaches a level heretofore unimagined. You can find yourself pacing the living room at three in the morning, not having slept four consecutive hours for weeks, with an infant inexplicably screaming in your ear. When your husband asks you if you’re absolutely certain you mixed the formula correctly as he examines it under the light... I defy anyone not to release a few expletives under these conditions.
           So I feel a little guilty that, during moments of extreme duress, I might have relieved myself of a few fu*ks within my daughter’s hearing. A worry nags at the back of my mind that my predilection for cursing is what led to her phonetic confusion. To make matters worse, I think she has begun to notice the flicker of shame on my face whenever she says it, because lately she’s been coming up to me when there are no forks in sight, says, “Fuhk,” then visibly enjoys my unease.
            I know in my heart if I tell her to stop saying it, she’ll develop a one-word vocabulary pretty quickly. What’s worse, her vocabulary is expanding, but she can’t say the “T” or “G” sound either. So I do my best to suppress my guilt and let her explore the myriad applications for this combination of phonemes.
            And my favorite, owing to my obliging explanation for where farts come from: Fart=Fuhk Butt. (She can say the “T” sound in “butt” perfectly, but not fart? Do you see why I sometimes wonder if she is, if you’ll excuse the expression, fu*king with me?)
           She’ll grow out of it. Her language skills are developing by leaps and bounds. She’s beginning to explore verbs, in fact, and is even starting to form simple sentences. Even if she has trouble pronouncing letters like “s,” she’s making an effort, and it really is exciting. So when she comes up to me holding her frog toy, lays him gently on a chair, points proudly, and says, “Fuhk shit in chair,” I’m a proud momma, even as my mother in law stares at me in horror.


  1. Oh man, this cracks me up. My firstborn said a bad word in Spanish. I laughed. (BAD!! Don't do this!!) Luckily we don't have a whole lot of Spanish speakers where I live, but of course one day we went on vacation and he tried out his spanky new entertaining word on a very big very buff looking Spanish speaker. I know I turned beet red, but I think she believed me when I told her he was just learning to talk

  2. Our daughter, clearly uttered her 1st word at 6 months and never looked back. There was never a question as to what she was saying or asking for. She was also a little parrot, so the potty mouth had to be kept to a minimum. I did my best, but my husband did not. One fateful afternoon we were on our way to Little Gym when she shouted, "What the F*ck, buddy?" over and over again until she eventually dropped the "what the" and just decided to shout, "F*ck buddy, F*ck buddy, F*ck buddy!" F*ck is not my word. Sh*t is. F*ck is her dad's word. I used the car's bluetooth to call him and requested he just listen for a second. He admitted to using it and possibly felt guilty for years until our son, who never had anything to say said, "Oh jhit, droppy!' as his 1st sentence.

  3. Ha! I bet every parent has hilarious stories like this.

  4. This is HILARIOUS! Laughing out loud!