Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tales of swearing

Precociousness is a trait I am becoming well acquainted with lately. The Faery just can't seem to help herself.

Take the following brief conversation from yesterday as an example:

The Faery (responding to the wrong TV show starting) said, "Oh fuck."

I couldn't quite believe my ears. "What did you just say?"

The Faery blinked, "Oh fuck."

I sucked in some air, "Ahhh... you know, that's a bad word you shouldn't say. I know you might hear grown-ups using it sometimes but it's really not a nice word and they shouldn't say it either. You can get into a lot of trouble at school if you say it. A lot of trouble."

(Yeah, I am one massive hypocrite, I know - sometimes there's no other word as satisfying to let rip as the old f-bomb, but I'm actually very careful not to say it when she's around.)

The Faery looked up at me, indignant that I'd clearly misunderstood her. "No, Mum... I didn't say 'fart', I said 'fuck'."

Yes. Fart is so much worse than fuck, right? (For the record, we're no prudes in this house about using the word fart.) 

Do you know how hard it was not to explode into giggles at this point? She obviously has no idea what fuck means, but at five years old, I'm in no hurry to clarify.

J had a chat with her about it later. He was great, and didn't patronise her. He let her know that when she grows up, yes, she can say it, but it's still a bad word and not for children to say. In the mean time, if she hears him say it when driving - or any other time - then he has to give her a dollar. Same deal if she hears me say it.

A human swear-jar. Her little face was aglow at the very thought. She's a stickler for rules and boundaries, so the idea of policing her own father? Awesome.

This wasn't the first time she'd tested out the word, but it's been almost three years since the last. When she was a little under three years old, I put her into one of those coin-operated ride-on cars at out local shopping centre. She pretended to drive, tooted the horn, and then muttered, "Youfuckenidiot."

Just like her daddy.

It was all in one word and - like yesterday - I thought I'd misheard so I asked her what she'd said. She repeated herself in barely a whisper, and on the spot, wondering if the people nearby had also heard, I nervously told her that we don't say that. Mentally, I was already berating J.

Twice more, that week, she uttered the same phrase. Both times, we were waiting to cross a street - the Faery perched on my hip - as a car slowly drove past.

Context-wise, it was a stirling effort on her behalf. I didn't want to turn it into a big deal, so apart from a quick "No, we don't say that", that was it. For some reason, she obliged and I never heard her say it again... until yesterday.

She's always been rather advanced with her language skills - something I've considered a blessing. However, J and I can no longer spell out words in front of her. Her literacy skills have come along in leaps and bounds, and she's pretty damn good at putting letters together to work out unfamiliar words. She's also blitzing the weekly lists of sight words she's expected to recognise. Additionally, the way she can read and put together Korean letters to form the syllables in words, and tell me the words... it blows my mind.

It's such an exciting time for her, learning to read and write. I remember so well how it felt like the world had opened up infinitely when I was able to read books by myself.

At the same time that this is happening for the Faery, Miss Pie is at a lovely stage where her speech is really improving. It's taken off at a slower pace than it did with her sister, but she's so pleased when she can make herself understood.

Watching their communicative skills blossom - first with speaking, and now with reading and writing - is beyond wonderful. The ESL teacher in me, especially, gets a real kick out of it.

Fun times.


  1. Good idea the human swear jar - problem is I think I might be broke in a week. Maybe it will finally cure me? Who knows ...

    Language really is her strong suit and I can quite understand why you would be excited about her abilities and willingness to learn. She's got good things ahead of her.

    1. It was totally J's idea. I'm just hoping she doesn't bust me too, because then I won't be able to feel so smug about my restrained efforts when dealing with LA drivers...

  2. Best.story.ever. Totally hilarious.

    I predict major problems in the future. You KNOW the Faery is going to run circles around you guys pretty soon, right?

    There is such a thing as too smart.... ;)

    1. I'm a little afraid about what's in store for the future. I am.

      Thank fuck Miss Pie's verbal skills have been anything but advanced - I don't think I could handle this x2.

  3. Wow, that is so cute. In a way. That she has no idea. How nice that she is so advanced in her language skills! That IS something good, at least most of the time. Great idea with a swear jar!!