language · slice of life

His sister said it. Kind of.

swearA couple of months ago, Isabelle picked up the phrase “Dang it!” at school. I tried to curb her use of the phrase when she began using it. I started with, “That’s not how we express our frustration.” When I heard it again I said, “That’s not how we speak in this house.” By the third time I heard it, I invoked something I knew would make her stop, “If you keep saying it, Ari will repeat it and that’s not how we want him to talk, do we?” She agreed that wouldn’t be a nice thing for a little boy to say. Therefore, Isabelle cut back on her use of the phrase “Dang it!” to show frustration or disgust. But every now and then, that little phrase seeped out of her mouth.

Last week, those two little naughty words spilled out of her mouth again. It was just once, but this time, Ari was standing next to her listening. She said, “Dang it!” I glared at her. Just as she said “Sorry,” Ari uttered something that sounded like “Dang it!”

But it wasn’t “Dang it!”

It was worse.

Ari said, “Dammit!”

Oh. My. G-d.

I knew he didn’t get “Dammit” from Isabelle (She doesn’t know the word damn!) any more than he got it from us. It was just his way of repeating “Dang it!” Except, it sounded way worse in his two-year-old voice.

Despite Isabelle curbing her use of that two-word phrase, Ari continues to repeat “Dammit” at the most inopportune times. One of those times was while we worshipped in synagogue this weekend. Thankfully, everyone else was singing and no one — except for me and maybe the kids behind us — heard Ari.

As for me, I’m trying to ignore the phrase that sounds way too close to damn it coming out of my two-year-old’s mouth because I know to ignore — rather than having a big reaction — is the way to eradicate something you don’t want to hear your child say.

It’s been four LONG days of ignoring the “Dammit” utterances. This makes me wonder just how much longer it will take for me to ignore this problem away.

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18 thoughts on “His sister said it. Kind of.

  1. Very relatable read. We recently tried to substitute an unwelcome word with another (real word that made no contextual sense) and now that word is the substitute for all swear words! Not sure I’m claiming a victory on that…

  2. You calm and collected way of handling this is ever so much better than my own was with a similar experience! Such a mixture of humor, wisdom, and sad, tainting truths.

  3. Oh, this made me giggle a bit, remembering the first swear word my daughter said–sh**, learned from my unknowing brother, and her interesting way of saying “funky” when she was two (you can only imagine…). Luckily, we didn’t have repeats within earshot…until college. But that’s another story.

  4. LOL! Just one time and the words they can remember . . . and produce in comparison to the names and all the language we wish they would use. Be thinking of a replacement word. Mary Poppins and “supercalifragilisticexpealidocius” might also appeal to Isabelle!

  5. Your post made me laugh! I love the image of your 2 year old saying “Dammit” in synagogue (though I know you didn’t love it at the time). I have to catch myself uttering certain words wound my 7 and 9 year old when I stub my toe etc… I remember when my then 3 year old went around saying “What the what” in true Liz Lemon style. It didn’t last long!

  6. HA HA! My daughter was the first in her class to swear ( at least in class!) In grade 1, she offered up sh** as a word that belongs in the -it family. SO PROUD! I don’t think she actually knew the word at all. She was just playing around with the language and came up with a word she could add to the list. But then we had to talk about swear words and how that word does fit in the -it family, but we’re not going to keep repeating that in class. 🙂

  7. This is a wonderful post that so many of us can relate to! I’m sure that while it’s a bit painful now, you’ll enjoy retelling it in years to come. I know my dad still likes to tell the story of how my brother repeatedly, incorrectly and enthusiastically pronounced the word “truck” (darn blends!) every time he saw one. The story of my very young daughter’s one word bomb, uttered in a hushed undertone when I dropped a freshly baked cheesecake on the floor, remains a favorite in our house. (Though at the time I had a few choice words to say to my husband!) Thanks for sharing and sending me down memory lane. I’ll be looking for an update in upcoming slices.

  8. Not exactly the post I thought it was going to be……I actually did use a swear jar about four years ago when my youngest because a teenager and started to say sh-t. After asking him to stop, I charged him a dollar each time he said it. It did not take long to put an end to it. Now, if only I could stop the weird vernacular that pops out of his mouth and I can barely understand! Good luck! My youngest is now 17, you’ve got lots of time to figure out how long is long enough!

  9. Ignore! Just ignore! 🙂 I love this story because it’s such a cute Ari story… and tame compared to what I thought it would be!

    When my son was 2, he kept saying something that sounded like “Butt cheese.” It drove us crazy. He learned it at the babysitter’s, I think… And every time anyone laughed it just encouraged him… it lasted forever! … until we ignored it for awhile.

    Good luck!

  10. Words. Words. Words. We want kids to learn them. They learn all kinds of words. Add the little mispronunciations. Some are cute. Some you wish to make disappear. Your story has a twist that makes all readers laugh.

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