Sam discovered computer animation this summer.
I posted his incredible, illustrated, homemade elevator animation to YouTube.
So, proud and fascinated published animator that he was, he poked around and discovered that other kids, also interested in elevators, also post cool, obsessively-interested-in-elevators elevator videos to YouTube.
(Here comes the part where I admit that I’m a terrible parent.)
In the moment when my back was turned, probably while I was preparing a healthy and delicious, balanced dinner, he discovered — well — other stuff on YouTube.
Because then, he discovered swear words. Lots of them. Lots and lots of uncensored, unmonitored, unencumbered by FCC standards, bonafide, internet-approved, genuine swear words.
This newfound special interest in forbidden language continued and intensified throughout the summer. During family car rides, Sam would
entertain horrify us all by listing all the obscene and censor-worthy words he knew. Then, he asked me to classify them, according to level of relative severity.
Sam: Mom, are some swears worse than others?
Me: Well, yes, bud, but they’re all inappropriate.
Sam: F%#$, sh!% and @$$h0&e… those are all Extremely Bad, right?
Me: Yep. And I don’t ever want to hear you say those words again.
Sam: What about the others? Ass, damn, and crap… those aren’t really swears.
Me: Well, sure they are, Bud. They’re just not quite as bad as the Extremely Bad ones.
Sam: No, Mom, they’re not swears.
It was at this point that I started to picture Sam in the principal’s office. A lot. He was due to start middle school this year — new teachers, new principal, new everything. People who didn’t know him. In a place where ALL of the kids begin experimenting with new adolescent habits, language, and attitudes.
I would really prefer to keep him out of the principal’s office.
So I spent much of our summer making it clear that while I knew he was curious about all of these words, he could NOT, under any circumstances, say anything like “PISS” or “SHIT” or “ASS” at school.
Sam: Mom! “Ass” and “crap” and “dammit” are NOT swear words.
Me: OK, Sam, but they’re still inappropriate.
Sam: No they’re not. Not swears, and not inappropriate. But I’m not supposed to say them?
Me: No. Do not say them.
Sam: But I have heard you say them.
Me: (shitshitshitshit, d’oh!) I know, and I shouldn’t say them either. Let’s both stop, okay?
Fast forward to NOW.
Sam is frequently reported, by his sisters and other alert passersby, for his potty mouth. However, the amazing truth is that Sam has cleverly mastered the art of how to enjoy the satisfaction of *shock* value, while maintaining his innocence.
Hannah: MOM!!! Sam called me an “ass”!
Sam: Nope, I said “as.” Which is NOT a swear word.
Abby: MOM!!!! Sam said “bullshit”!
Sam: No, I didn’t. I said “bulls sit.” Which they do.
Yesterday, he came home after school and whipped open the kitchen cabinet, looking for snacks. To his chagrin, he did not find his beloved Pop Tarts. Exasperated, he looked in my direction and said, “Geez! What the helly?”
I attempted to cover my laughter with a Stern Look of Disapproval.
And he said, without missing a beat, and with an impish glint in his eye, “What’s the problem? It’s short for ‘helicopter.’”