Thursday, February 16, 2006


The first time I was suspended from school was in the second grade. It started when I told Mrs. Berghart that flashcards were stupid (I already knew the multiplication and division tables way beyond what we were reviewing.) She responded by slapping me in the face, which I responded to by calling her a “retard.” Not a politically correct insult, but I was seven. Although I believe this event triggered a lifelong hatred of school and difficulty dealing with authority figures, I’m still proud of myself for standing up to the man (or woman in this case) at such a young age.

Now, fast forward 30 years…

When you have children, you try to teach them right from wrong and hope that they won’t repeat your mistakes of the past. Now, I’ve been known to use a few four letter words every so often – OK quite frequently. I learned it from my dad who spent much of his life working with truck drivers. [Please don’t send me e-mail complaining that I’m making an unfair sweeping generalization about truck drivers. I’m not judging them, just stating the fact that these guys at my dad’s factory liked to swear a lot.] Despite my liberal views towards song lyrics (see American Idiot’s Guide to Parenting in this Blog), I do make a strong effort to watch my language in front of the kids.

I never thought I would ever quote Bill Cosby, but indeed “kids say the darndest things.” My daughter Becca is 18 months old and has quite a good vocabulary, though it’s sometimes hard to understand what she is saying. Occasionally she has to use a nebulizer, which is like an asthma inhaler that shoots medicine for 10 minutes at a time. We have no idea why, but Becca has named this device something that sounds remarkably like “fuck.” Every time she sees the nebulizer she points to it, and in her innocent baby voice, says “fuck…fuck…fuck…” We have no idea whether she is trying to say a different word, or where she might have heard this four letter word.

Well, earlier this week we received a very concerned phone call from the head teacher at Becca’s daycare. It seems they are quite concerned that she has been using the “F” word and that they are afraid the other kids might start repeating. We assured the teacher that we don’t use this word in front of her. I also explained that sometimes we call the blue tube on the front of the nebulizer mouthpiece the “elephant’s trunk.” Maybe she was trying to say trunk? That was really sort of an excuse because she really can say trunk.

Now we have a problem. There really is no effective way to modify the vocabulary of an 18 month old. But, I don’t want other parents to blame our kid for teaching everyone to talk like truck drivers. I also want to defend my record for being the youngest kid in the family to be suspended from school.


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