Lady Bug dropped her forked. It hit the edge of the couch and clattered onto the floor. Her frustration rolled out of her four-year-old mouth in a crystal clear “DAMMIT”.
I looked out of the kitchen where I was preparing a beverage, eyebrow raised, “Excuse me young lady?”
She looked around like she was confused by my question. Like I was obviously deaf for not hearing her the first time. “I said dammit.”
Wow. I tried to play the stern parent who doesn’t deal with nonsense. “I know I did not hear you say that.”
“Yes.” She looked directly at me and reiterated, “I. Said. D-a-m-m-i-t.”
She had doubled down. I shifted to negotiation phase. “You don’t need to use that word.”
She cocked an eyebrow. “Why not?” What else should be used in a moment of frustration?
She was wielding the logic of a child. It was simple but effective. A real world litmus test for a concept without a previous experience to taint judgement. I thought to myself, dammit, and then I rolled out the catch-all fallback position, “It is an adult word and you don’t need to use it.”
She fired back immediately. “That is stupid.”
Double dammit. She was right. It was stupid. We spend our lives pretending we are better than we really are. An endless cycle where we try to convince each successive generation to be better than we know ourselves to be. I was impressed by her wisdom, her resolve. She might be the first person in our family to be free of society and our expectations. How could I respond? “It is stupid but that is life so don’t say it, okay?” I replied with a slight squint. Bracing for the rebuttal.
I played my last card. This was it. The bluff. The precipice. If she smelled blood in the water I might lose all the imaginary leverage that I held over her. I braced for her answer and walked into the living room to meet my fate. My terror of a teenager could emerge from her cocoon a full nine years before nature intended.
The world hung in the balance and she answered, “okay…”.
I breathed a sigh of relief and noticed she was staring at the cup of juice in my hand. Saved by a technicality. She is unable to pour juice from the massive Hawaiian Punch jug that I buy in bulk. She is at least smart enough to know that she needs my brute strength to survive.
I am the parenting version of a useful idiot. They let me believe I have some sort of power in exchange for my services. We both know that once they can drive a car or pour their own juice, I’m done for.
I was almost done for after a separate scenario.
Earlier tonight the girls were playing Mario Cart and talking about rhyming words. One said the word “Tickle.” Seamlessly, another said, “Pickle.” A giggling God tied their thoughts together and they erupted into a chant of “Tickle my Pickle. Tickle my pickle.” I told them to stop with the rhyme. They asked “why?”
“Because I said so”, I said as seriously as I could while rushing into the next room to wipe the smile off my face. It took me a full five minutes to gather myself and be able to face them again. It was hilarious.
If you struggle with censorship, this post is for you. You’re welcome.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.