Guest Post- Oh, @#%! Where’d my first-grader learn that word?


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@#%! What do you do when big words come out of such little mouths?

See, my first-grader, Grace, recently declared, “I know five bad words.” She said it at dinner. Without looking up. Totally conversational; completely challenging.

Her older sister, Marie, looked at me immediately. She wanted to know just how her dad would counter that. She raised her eyebrows, pursed her lips, and waited

This the moment of truth, dads. Moms can cite these instances and fuss at our wrong move. Kids might tell their counselors about these days. Teachers will make notes of them at your next parent-teacher conference, you can bet your can on that.

So, how would you answer, dad?

1. “Yeah? I know at least twice as many.”

2. “But do any rhyme with stuck or bit? Wonder if Father Will knows them too … “‘

3. “Have you been riding in rush-hour traffic with grandma again?”

My answer: “Tell me!”

When the dust settled on the bleep-button, most fell into the ‘mild’ category. One was decently good. You wouldn’t get kicked off the city bus for using any of them. So I just nodded, showed a bit of a rise, but not much. You can’t go wacky until the f-bomb drops, I reasoned. I just listened.

Just like that, it was over.

True, kids cursing is kinda funny. But that’s not why I did it.

I reasoned that raising a curtain of guilt over this breeze of curse words would be counterproductive. I let Grace have her say. Communicate.

“Not bad,” I conceded. “There are better ones on the fourth- and fifth-grade playground, though.”

Marie nodded in agreement. I know she learned some on the soccer pitch, too.

If your kid’s comfortable letting you in on the blue language they just learned, or which boys are cute and which are ugly in home room, or why it’s a great idea to invest $5 in ice cream and cones during a trip to the market, it’s a good day for dad. That means maybe, one day, years down the road, she won’t think twice discussing her best friend’s cigarette experiment, or neighbor’s lead-foot driving, or an offer of marijuana at a church-sponsored sock hop.

Just like the five-bad-words conversation, I’ll stop. Listen. React.

Today, Grace added two to the curse-word hopper: “Wretched,” which she said Marie taught her. And the other rhymes with “fit.”

Where’d she learn that one?

My mom’s own grandma.

We have a few more to go, I realize. But the fact that she could tell me about it? Seems like a pretty $#%#@ good thing to me.


Eli Pacheco is the father of three girls, a writer, and a soccer coach. He writes a weekly column called “Coach Daddy” for a  Charlotte-based online parenting magazine called Modern Parent.
Using a delectable mixture of humor, thoughtfulness, and self-deprecation, he entertains his readers with stories about his  failure to be an adequate Mexican-American, his inadvertent boxer-shorts exposure, and the perils of playing Candy Land with motivated little girls.