Do you remember sleep-overs? I used to love spending the night at a friend's house. For all of my middle-school years, I was at Christy's house at least one weekend night every single week (well, except for the weekends I went to see my father, and that in itself was a whole different kind of adventure). But I loved staying at Christy's house because 1) she had cable - including HBO, 2) she knew how to make macaroni and cheese all by herself and it was so much better than the crap at my house, and 3) we were allowed to stay up as late as we wanted, and then, we could sleep in as late as we wanted too. I believed all the way to my core that Christy had the coolest parents ever.
So Dalton (8) was invited to spend the night at a friend's house this past Friday. This was a big deal because it would be his first sleep-over since moving to Massachusetts. AND the first time I let him sleep over with a family that I just barely know. I packed his bag with pjs, snow clothes, and toiletries. I was under strict instructions by my husband to not pack Deeogee, the little stuffed dog Dalton has slept with every night since he was 9 months.
We picked Dalton up after lunch on Saturday and I could tell by the serious dark circles under his eyes that either he was up half the night or that he had eaten way too much dairy. I could not wait to get home to get the scoop on his night. But my husband said not to pry - boys need their secrets - but as soon as we got in the door, he started telling Sabrina (6) about the night. The conversation went something like this (very slightly edited so that I don't get nasty emails about using profanity in a family bog):
Dalton: And then he told his mom that his f**king game wouldn't charge up and then she told him to shut his f**king mouth.
Dalton: THEN, then he called his mom a, well, you know that word for a girl dog? That rhymes with itch? Well, he called his mom that word.
Sabrina: A witch? He called his mom a witch? Ooh - that's bad.
Dalton: No! You know that word I showed you in Old Yeller? (whispers) B**ch!
Sabrina: (DOUBLE-GASP!!) What did the mom say after that?
Dalton: Oh, well, she said that she was going to kick his f**king a** as soon as I went home.
At this point I could just no longer pretend to be busy in the kitchen and I had to join the conversation.
Me: Dalton, is all that stuff true or are you just trying out new words?
Dalton: I swear. It really happened. Just like I told Sabrina.
So then we had a brief conversation about how words are just words, it is the meaning behind the words that make them hurtful or taboo. I even said the words damn and Hell several times to show how the words themselves did not have power - but what you mean when you say them counts for a whole lot. I think about a million years ago I read about this approach to kids using bad words in some parenting book (or maybe it was Oprah - I just can't remember). I liked the idea of demystifying bad words, and I was sooo proud of myself for being able to recall this morsel of wisdom at just the right time. Oh - and then for good measure I threw in the lecture about how different houses have different rules. Who says this parenting thing is hard?
Of course, Sabrina had to have the last word on the whole business.
Sabrina: And at school and at home we can not point with our middle fingers.