My friend works for Headstart, and she was sitting at the lunch table with several four year olds when two of them got into an argument about whether the fruit one brought for lunch was a lime or a kiwi. The boy who brought it said it was a kiwi, but the other boy, who tended to get into trouble, was emphatic that it was a lime. My friend listened to them going back and forth until the argument started getting a little heated. She thought it had run it’s course, and look at the child who said it was a lime and said, “Demond, I’m going to put your mind straight right now on this – it’s a kiwi.”
Without missing a beat, Demond looked her straight in the eye and, in a slow, surly voice, said, “Shut up, bitch.”
My friend was taken aback at first, and then could barely contain herself from laughing. Meantime, the kids jumped to her defense. “Don’t call our teacher a bitch. She’s nice. She’s always smiling. You shouldn’t call her a bitch.” Another said, “Yeah, she’s not a bitch, she’s nice to us.” One protested on principle, “Demond said a cuss word. He called the teacher a bitch, and bitch is a cuss word. You can’t say bitch at school, Demond.
Several others chimed in until it got loud enough that the head teacher came over to see what was the commotion. My friend whispered it in her ear, and she could barely contain her laughter. She had to maintain her composure and explain to Demond why this was not appropriate language for 4 year olds at school.
Out of the mouths of babes…When I was a kid, there was a variety show called Art Linkletter Presents, and on one segment that lasted about ten minutes, he’d have five or six kids about Demond’s age sitting in chairs on the stage with their starched dresses and pressed slacks, and he’d ask them a question most of them probably didn’t understand, and they’d say funny little cute things that made the audience laugh and Mr. Linkletter smile like his pants were being charmed off because everyone was enjoying these little darlings on his show. I bet the director didn’t have to coach the kids on language, because nice boys and girls didn’t hear those things in their homes, on TV, or in the movies.
Fast forward to today and you can’t go anywhere without hearing cussing right out loud – in the check stand at the grocery store, on the baseball field, even at church. My priest has said “damn” a couple of times during his sermons to make a point.
Kids will repeat what they hear, and I remember my two year old son walking through the mall saying, “Damn, damn, damn,” because he’d heard it somewhere (not from me!) and I’d read it was okay to let kids say these words because it helped with their creativity or something. An older lady gave me the evil eye big time, and I told him to stop saying it. He did, because he liked me back then – before he turned 15 and decided that zombies must have slurped up my brain because I became the stupidest human on earth.
After that I didn’t let my kids cuss. For better or worse, I never got called about language, which was a good thing because I got called on enough other stuff over the years, kids being kids. I never had to un-train them, like Demond’s mom is going to have to do or else get in fights with teachers all through school. But quite honestly, I’m glad he said this to my friend because I laughed when I heard it, I laugh every time I tell it, and I was laughing as I typed it just now. As Art Linkletter used to tell us, “Kids say the darnedest things.” I’m mighty happy they do.
Addendum: I ran spell and grammar check and my computer thinks I should change, “Shut up, bitch,” to “Shut up and bitch.” What makes my computer think that’s a more grammatical way to say this? Who programmed this phrase as good English? It’s actually a contradiction – you can’t shut up AND bitch. I think I’ll complain to Microsoft. “Dear Bill Gates: Why are you telling me to shut up AND bitch? You’re married. You know this is not possible. What’s the matter with you?” I could have some fun with this.
Or I could go to bed.