Katie and I are alone in the car, returning from a marathon session of errand running. Yeah, good times.
“Mama?” she asks, “Do you think I could start swearing a little? You know, like just the light ones, maybe?”
I smirk, remembering a friend relaying an almost identical conversation she’d had with her daughter a couple of years ago.
“What do you mean, honey?”
“Well, I’m nine and three-quarters after all – almost TEN.” She says TEN with all the gravity she can muster. “So I was thinking maybe I could say like ‘hell’ or ‘damn’ once in a while now, ya know?”
I chew on the idea for a moment and then tell her that I’d be OK with her trying them on for size when it’s just the two of us alone in the car. I tell her that they cannot be used outside of our home and NEVER in front of her sister.
She seems satisfied.
I get a little carried away patting myself on the back for my cool yet still authoritative parenting solution. Those moments don’t happen often, after all. But my reveling is cut short.
“What about ‘crap’?”
I tighten my grip on the wheel as I say, “Excuse me?”
“Can I say ‘crap’?”
I think for a minute, do a gut check and tell her unequivocally that I am NOT comfortable with my nine year-old (or my nine and three-quarter year-old or even my almost TEN year-old) using the word crap. In any setting. Period.
She looks at me thoughtfully. I assume that she’s formulating her counter-argument, gathering her thoughts before trying to persuade me that I’m wrong.
“So I guess ‘shit’ is out of the question then, huh?”