F-bombs and Affirmations
September 3, 2015
It started with a broken dishwasher.
One week after Alida was born the little guy decided it’d had enough. One too many a poorly scraped dish or soggy jar label wreaking havoc on its miniature bits. Yes, we decided, if we had to replace it, perhaps a bigger one would be prudent. Of course, to have the space for that, we’d have to finally replace the refrigerator too. Basically a bar fridge, with no freezer and infuriating roll-out drawers that couldn’t accommodate an upright jar of pickles… Really, with a second child, a proper fridge only made sense. But then, of course, the cupboards would have to be redone, which would mean a trip to Ikea, multiple visits to the building supply centre, and removing the beast of a granite countertop. And you know, frankly, that thing was too narrow and we never really liked it… why not replace that too, while we’re at it?
And so on.
Except we didn’t conceived of the whole plan in one go, but rather over several weeks of escalating chaos. The first new dishwasher immediately fritzed out. So did the jigsaw. And we didn’t have that tool, or that part, and that was measured wrong… Meanwhile, as the kitchen monopolized every spare minute of Achim’s time, the upheaval in the apartment grew frighteningly. Old cupboards and appliances filled the hall and office… the living room floor was impassably strewn with tools and the contents of our poor, destroyed kitchen. Plus, you know, toddler and brand new baby.
This is all to say, we were a little overwhelmed. “Little” being a complete lie. A week in, I was bawling. And, um, swearing. A lot. So unfortunately, I can’t pretend I don’t know where he got it. My three year old, I mean. The kid with the sparkle in his eye who just F-bombed 14 times in a row…
What do you say when your kid copies your shitty behaviour?* I don’t know. With the feeble hope of at the very least modelling humility if not perfect self control, we tend to go with something along the lines of “Sweetie, that’s not nice, I know we do it sometimes but we shouldn’t, we are sorry that we do it, let’s all try not to do it.” And I worry about what I’m teaching him, and feel guilty and probably inadequate.
But then I’m driving, running errands with my sparkly-eyed boy and his new baby sister. She’s crying, and I’m clumsily trying to soothe her from the front street, while navigating these freakishly narrow European streets that should be one way but are not. Distractedly, I’m singing, cooing… “Alida, sweetie… honey… It’s okay my little muffin cake…” And then a little voice chimes in, in exactly my cadence.
I chuckle as I recognize my own verbatim absentminded baby soothing nonsense… “Little sweetie,” he coos, and then with hilariously unmistakable intonation…
“Life is gooooood!”
And I think, ahh what the hell. I’m not doing that badly.
*In principle, I don’t really think swearing is the worst in certain contexts, and as long as the word isn’t discriminatory or used hurtfully… the evidence seems to back me up here. That said, I’m not sure my toddler is quite keen to the nuances, and frankly I can’t claim to have exactly modelled appropriate usage either! 😳