Sunday, March 22, 2009

The "f-word."

7-year-old Bean has been hounding me for days to tell him what "the f-word" is. Apparently, the issue came up at his afterschool program, where the kids were working on a list of rules. Some of the older kids suggested that not using "the f-word" or "the bad finger" would be good rules; for the littler kids, however, this raised more questions than it answered: a bad finger? What could that mean? And what, on earth, is "the f-word"? (Some guesses: "fart" and "fool.")

So, finally, when he started asking me about it yet again and pleading with me to tell him what it meant, I sat him down.

"Bean," I said, "I'm going to tell you. But this means that I'm treating you like a grown-up, and you need to understand that you can never say this word at school or at afterschool program. If you feel like you want to say this word, you can go in your room by yourself and say it quietly. That's it. Because it is not a nice word."

"Okay," he said, seriously and expectantly.

"The 'f-word' is 'fuck'. Remember how I told you about the man putting his penis in the woman's vagina? That's called 'intercourse,' or sometimes, 'sex'. The word 'fuck' is a very rude way to say that. You might hear me and Daddy saying it sometimes, but it isn't nice and we shouldn't do it. Putting up your middle finger at someone - no, not that way, like this - means 'fuck you.' It is very rude and not nice and we don't ever do that. Okay?"

"Okay," he said, still serious. Then, thoughtfully, "You know, I bet I would've ended up saying it by accident, if I were just fooling around and saying silly words." (In fact, he has.)

So that's where we are. So far, so good.


Trinity said...

At my school when I was a kid, some sixth graders got another kid in trouble for putting up his middle finger when they told him to show one of his fingers. (He'd just picked one to hold up, and they'd laughed uproariously and immediately gleefully told on him.)

They very clearly were using this as a flimsy excuse to get the kid, who had no idea he'd done anything wrong, in trouble.

I told the teachers that the kid hadn't intended anything -- that neither he, nor I, knew until that very moment that there was anything bad about a finger -- but wound up punished too.

I remember going home and asking my dad why in the world some people thought that a finger was bad.

Anonymous said...

Great job!!! You really treated bean respectfully. By the way, you are GOOD- my daughter is not even 2 and she knows the f word. It is my own fault

Green said...

My friend's daughter just turned six. The morning of her birthday I was at their house and my friend wanted me to hear a song that included the words "mother fucker." We were all joking around and singing the lyrics and laughing and I could tell my friend's daughter really wanted to say it too but couldn't tell if it would be okay (and she's smart enough to know she wouldn't want to get in trouble on her birthday).

So I told her right before we headed out the door to let it rip, just this once, because it was her birthday. Very gleefully, she said, "Mother FUCKER!" I said, "Was that every bit as fun as you thought it would be?" and she nodded.

"Good," her mother said. "Because you don't get to say it again until your next birthday.

Bean sounds like a very sweet little boy.

The first time I figured out how to hold up my middle finger with all the other fingers staying down, I proudly showed my mother while she was in the bathroom putting on makeup. She sent me to go show my father - I wonder if they laughed about it later.

Stentor said...

"You know, I bet I would've ended up saying it by accident, if I were just fooling around and saying silly words."

This is exactly how I learned the f-word. I said it just as my dad walked in the room, and he was shocked.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Yeah, then Bean went and told his friend all about it. @$#%

Plain(s)feminist said...

Sigh. Yeah, sorry about that, anon. I guess it's a sign that he felt really connected to this friend...

The timing couldn't have been worse, eh?