Wow. Okay. So I was minding my own business, sewing costumes for Vacation Bible School, talking to the kids yesterday, when things took a turn I didn't expect. A bomb was dropped. THE F BOMB.
I had just a moment to decide how to handle this. I am working on not overreacting and not reacting too quickly. I'm glad I paused, because if you had asked me last week how I would have handled it, the way I handled it would NOT have been what I'd say. I was led in a different direction.
I calmly said "Where did you hear that word?"
What I wanted to say was,
The response? "Everywhere."
Lest you think I am a potty mouthed sailor, my children have never heard John and I say that word. My usual utterance is "FLUFFERNUTTER PUMPKIN BUTT" or some other nonsense.
My mind flashed to things I say when I drive. My kids hear me call people morons and idiots when I drive sometimes. Why do I say those words? Because I'm a person who has feelings that I don't always control well. I wouldn't want my kids to use those words against someone else, but I do it.
The truth is, a word's meaning is the most important part. Not the word itself. If I call someone a moron with the same fervor and feelings someone else would put behind a "bad" word, does that make me a better person? No. An arrangement of letters isn't the issue here. It's the heart.
I had a child who was baring their soul to me in this moment, talking about really serious feelings- and they slipped. I could see the look on my child's face, begging me to hear what was really being communicated.
We talked for a while longer then went about our day. That evening, I said "I know that you know that isn't a word I think you should use with frequency. You aren't in trouble. I'm glad you talked to me. You are allowed to share anything with me. You have some very serious things going on and lots of valid feelings."
That's it. No long sermon. My kids know how I feel. I know how they feel. Our goal is to speak life and love to each other. Driving home a lecture would have shut down the lines of communication. I have had and will continue to have opportunities to model and teach self-control, kindness and other positive attributes that should be the driving force behind our words.
I wasn't so collected about it the whole time though...when my kids weren't around that night, I texted a friend and fellow parent and said "OH MY GOSH MY KID DROPPED THE F BOMB."
The response? "Mazel Tov."
Phew. The world didn't end.