Maria announced, quite proudly:
“I know The F-Word!”
“Really? What’s the F-Word?”
“You know the F-Word, Mama.”
“Fun, fudge, flip?”
“OK, why don’t you tell me what you think the F-Word is?”
“It’s a bad word.”
“It’s OK. You’re not in trouble, I just want to make sure we’re talking about the same F-Word.”
And then she said it, with the right frustrated emphasis on the “CK!” Grown up yuck from my little innocent’s mouth.
“Yup, that’s an F-Word, alright.”
Apparently, a classmate who does not enjoy doing a certain type of work told her that she likes to say The F-Word when she does this particular task.
Maria also told me she learned Ass and Damn, but I am not sure those gems came from the same classmate.
I am just feeling a little bit grateful she didn’t learn the F-Word from me. I have been known to say it a little bit and the Cubans I come from have bocas sucias. So, getting to nearly 8 and just learning the F-Word is a good example of our self-restraint. (I’m claiming that as parental victory, OK?)
So, her father and I had a talk with her about the use of her new words. We asked her not to say them because they’re not polite, and please, don’t teach them to any other kids. We especially emphasized we don’t want to get a call from school should she get caught dropping F-Bombs.
Words can hurt, she said.
Yes, they can, we said.
We also told her her friends will tell her a lot of things, things they will encourage her not to tell us. We told her some of the stuff will be wrong, that she can come to us for fact checking with no worries.
I had flashbacks to the neighbor girl who, when I was 8, told me where a man puts his penis to make a baby with a woman. I thought she was talking about the urethra. The fear that image struck in me…ay, I can’t even tell you. I never asked my mom about it. I shudder to think my kid is going to get that kind of wrong information.
The F-Word episode was funny and surprising. And sad, too. More examples of the beginning of innocence lost. I have an image of myself pushing away all the hard stuff, the ugly stuff, the mean stuff, away from her. A futile, and perhaps misguided, attempt.
But maybe this is what life is about. We lose our innocence in little bits — and maybe some of us in huge chunks – and our work is to regain it, to get back to seeing and living as a child does.
I don’t know.
But, it is fascinating to watch it all unfold.
I only pray to survive her growing up without dropping a few F-Bombs of my own.