Motherhood

On Children Swearing

Paris puppet show

Ok, be honest: Do your children ever swear? Do you?

Growing up, my mom swore only now and again when she was really mad (she would bust out with an old-school “Damnation!”), and when I swear now, at 38 years old, my dad still says “Jo! Language!”

But sometimes you kind of need to swear. “How do people, like, not curse? How is it possible?” wrote Nick Hornby in A Long Way Down. “There are these gaps in speech where you just have to put a ‘f*ck.'”

Before becoming parents ourselves, Alex and I would often swear for emphasis (e.g., “That meal was so f-ing good”) or, of course, when a grocery bag broke or we missed a flight or eight million other things. Once Toby was born, we cleaned up our act, but now and again, we still can’t help it — and little ears hear everything. I remember when two-year-old Anton was riding a wooden bike down the hallway, suddenly said “Damn it!” and then looked up at me with a sneaky smile and said, “… but we don’t say that.”

So, when I stumbled upon this excerpt from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, I laughed out loud:

My son, Sam, at three and a half, had these keys to a set of plastic handcuffs, and one morning he intentionally locked himself out of the house. I was sitting on the couch reading the newspaper when I heard him stick his plastic keys into the doorknob and try to open the door. Then I heard him say, “Oh, shit.” My whole face widened, like the guy in Edvard Munch’s Scream. After a moment I got up and opened the front door. “Honey,” I said, “what’d you just say?”
 “I said, ‘Oh, shit,’ ” he said.
 “But, honey, that’s a naughty word. Both of us have absolutely got to stop using it. Okay?” 
He hung his head for a moment, nodded, and said, “Okay, Mom.” Then he leaned forward and said confidentially, “But I’ll tell you why I said ‘shit.’ ” I said okay, and he said, “Because of the fucking keys!”

Last week, I was putting seven-year-old Toby to bed, and he told me that his classmate got in trouble for saying the “f-word.” I asked him if he knew the word, and he nodded. “What is it?” I asked. Very somberly, he looked up at me and whispered, “It’s… frustrated.”

Maybe not all innocence is lost, quite yet. :)

Do your kids ever swear? Do you? What word flies out of your mouth when you stub your toe?

P.S. A surprising way to stop tantrums, and what little things enchant your children?

(Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt.)

  1. Meg says...

    Like many others I grew up in a house where “sucks” and “shut up” were bad words. I still hardly ever swear, but I am known to say shit from time to time. Just a few weeks ago I said something about a “shitty situation” while talking on the phone with my dad, and I think it was the first time he ever heard me swear…I’m 29! He burst out laughing as I immediately apologized.

  2. Anna says...

    About a year ago when we were living in Beijing, my ten year old son and I were riding our bikes one blissful summer evening. It was quite dark as we turned into our street and suddenly I rode across some uneven road, lost control of my bike, hit a barrier and landed flat on my back. “HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! Damn it Mum! Where are you? Mum! Are you okay? Bloody hell! Don’t scare me like that!” I lay there, laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks. He soon found me and then, I’m very proud to say, my charmingly eloquent firstborn helped me ( and my damn wreck of a bike) off the street. So yes. My son swears a bit…

  3. Gillian Helm says...

    My husband and I are big fans of swearing, not to mention big fans of owning your language and never allowing it to own you. So with three young boys (5, 2, 6 months) we very intentionally talk with them about appropriate words and language for appropriate places and settings. Already they know they can talk almost freely at home, as long as none of the language they use is hurtful. But that’s not to say we haven’t run into issues. My two year old’s favorite question in traffic is, “Mom, are the morons out today?” And our five year old stunned his kindergarten teacher when he reported after a big baseball game that his team got “f*cking stomped.” I was just happy that his teacher could safely assume which sport-loving parent he’d heard that from ;)

  4. Escondista says...

    I am the worst in the car! I called someone an asshole under my breath and suddenly remembered my little person in the backseat.
    We need a bus pass.

  5. Kate says...

    When I was young, maybe 7 or 8, I was upset with my mom and told her she was being an asshole. (!!!) I vividly remember where we were and even what I was wearing. My parents didn’t curse in the house so I’m sure I picked it up at school and knew that’s what you called people when they were doing something you didn’t agree with. My 7 year old self clearly didn’t agree with mom in that moment.

  6. Anne says...

    I have the best video of my then 3 year old saying “Oh Gammit!” over and over with different emphasis and inflection every single time. It was the funniest thing I have ever heard (and my friends on Instagram and FB agreed). I try not to swear around my girls, but (obviously) fail. My youngest is almost 3 now and verbally a bit behind where her sister was at this age, but she’s definitely in the parroting stage, so I feel like I have to be extra mindful of what comes out of my mouth.

  7. Angela says...

    I do curse sometimes, mostly while driving. And my son has definitely said “Damn it” and “shit” and “piss” (Is piss a cuss word? Just crude, maybe?). He’s also said them in front of my mother-in-law. She and i were both mortified, albeit for different reasons. ;)

  8. Meagan says...

    I teach 8th grade, so occasionally curse words fly. I normally don’t make a big deal out of it when it isn’t so noticeable, but when the room is totally quiet and someone drops an f-bomb, we calmly discuss it in the hall. I teach English, so sometimes I make it a teaching lesson… “What does the word actually mean, and are you using it properly?” Their normal response to that is a hardcore eye roll :)

    • Kate says...

      This is awesome and such a great response to youth using crude language! You sound like a wonderful teacher :)

  9. Kata says...

    When my friend’s little girl, J, was seven, she explained on the car ride home one day how the “f-word” was so confusing because it meant two very different things: one meaning was an action AND the other was something you said when upset. My friend tried to calm her face and asked J quietly, “Honey, just to make sure we’re talking about the same thing, what do you think the ‘f-word’ is? You can tell me and I promise you won’t get in trouble.” J looked at her like she was losing her mind and announced, “Fudge! You eat it AND you say it when something bad happens.” My friend was so relieved that he daughter was as sheltered as she had hoped she was:)

  10. Christine says...

    I’m a teacher and this just came up today! A fifth grader was lingering around a group of 8th grade boys playing football at recess. The 5th grader came over and told me they were using the f-word. I held said 8th graders after sending everyone else in and basically told them to watch it when the younger kids are around. I’m not going to stand next to them and police their language during their only time in the day to cut loose, but they have to be aware of the audience.

    As for my own kids, my almost two year old is a parrot… during a cut to a commercial break during an NFL game this weekend when the words he chose to repeat were his uncle’s after watching a slow-mo shot of some cheerleaders— I’ll never laugh harder than I did at my little boy yelling, “HUGE JUGS!”

  11. AN says...

    My husband and I still laugh MANY years later when we reminisce about our then-2-year-old explaining that he had to go to sleep because he was just “so goddamn tired”…didn’t have to think too hard to realize who he’d heard that from!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

    • Meghan says...

      My mom tells me a story of me asking my dad to pass me the “bloody damn scissors” when I was two!

  12. Taylor says...

    Loving these comments! And a story to contribute:

    When I was about 5 or 6, I had those alphabet cooks and I used to grab a handful and see if I could spell anything with them. Well, one day I grabbed four words and I remember getting so frustrated that I couldn’t spell a word with them until I found one! My parents walked in the kitchen to hear me slowly and the more quickly sounding out “F-u-ck” over and over. They had to leave the room they were laughing so hard!

  13. Alex says...

    When my now 2 year old was just starting to talk (and i mean JUST starting – she had like half a dozen words) I went to change one of her poo diapers, and when I opened up the diaper she announced very loudly and clearly, “OHHH SHIT!” After a second of total shock I lost it laughing. She’d picked it up from me – after all those surprise explosive diaper poops or the extra stinky ones that would catch me off guard and make me exclaim “Oh shit!”

  14. Carrington says...

    This is such a hot topic in our household right now. Our son is 13 months old and clearly beginning to talk and mimic. Unfortunately, I curse on a casual basis. It is hard to stop!

  15. Ivy says...

    My parents haven’t shied way from swearing, but I hardly ever uttered the words outside my own house. Dad does tell a funny story about me being a toddler and utilizing a cuss word effectively, though.

    Scene: Young Ivy sits in a high chair, poised to scarf down a bowl of Spaghettios with meatballs. Dad comes in to check on Ivy eating, surprised to find the meatballs tossed out of the bowl onto the floor. When asked what she was doing, Ivy answers, “God dammit, there’s rocks in my ‘ghettios!”

    And that’s how he knew he needed to cool it on the swear words… haha.

    • Thomas says...

      Hello Ivy ; )

  16. Bridget says...

    I started out as a parent not swearing, but somehow fell into the habit?! Now I swear like a sailor. My oldest would swear to tease and annoy the younger ones- they loved telling on him, then three of the 4 regularly cursed. I have tried to teach my 4 kids to swear appropriately. The funniest is when my youngest flips off a sibling- she doesn’t usually curse- the others love to tell me and she pretends she didn’t. No one gets into trouble for cursing and its rarely done in meanness. My younger sister called me for advice once when her three year old daughter kept saying in frustration, “I can’t tie my fucking shoe!” No matter what my sister said to her daughter, she would not stop saying it when frustrated. So I told her to ignore it. She did and now her daughter is 8 and doesn’t curse at all. I think swearing is fine and if people are offended its on them. When its no longer offensive, it looses its power. “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never hurt me” my siblings and I would taunt to each other. I wish it were always true ;)

  17. t says...

    I cursed A LOT before kids but once they came I completely stopped. We don’t say butt or Jesus or shut-up or anything that is even borderline (we also don’t say ya, yep or nope). My kids constantly ‘correct’ me when I say ‘but’ or ‘jeez’ because they can’t figure out the difference.

    And ultimately now they just make up their own bad terms. This morning my son yelled Oh Penis!

  18. Lisa says...

    I used to swear all the time in front of my then 2 year old. I had no idea that she was picking up on this foul language and knew I would stop using those words in front of her soon. In the span of 24 hours, she used the F word twice with perfect execution. I never told her it was a bad word. I simply never used the word or any curses again. I even told her preschool teacher what was happening and to not acknowledge the word if she used it. After not hearing it and not making a big deal about it, she never used it again.

  19. Ashley says...

    With regards to your statement that sometimes you need to swear or emphasize something… I think the more you use curse words, the less emphasis you give them. I can probably count the number of times I cursed in my lifetime on my toes and fingers, and I’ve noticed that just saying “darn” or “freakin’ ” adds enough emphasis for my friends to understand what I mean. My sister and brother-in-law curse every so often, and I always used to tell them they have to clean up before their daughter is born (now I say “before she gets older and can repeat words” because she’s now born, haha). So yes, I think you CAN get away with never cursing (and it becomes a habit you don’t even think about), but sometimes it takes very conscious effort to stop yourself from cursing when you realize you’re about to.

  20. Kat says...

    When my daughter was 18 months my husband was changing her diaper and threw her pants on the floor and she said “bye bye bitches!”. Turns out my mom had been calling them britches….

    • Amy P says...

      Haha!

    • shira says...

      That’s Hilarious, Kat!!!

  21. Barb says...

    My parents didnt curse much when I was growing up. I learned the words eventually, of course, but never said them! I still feel weird saying any curse, in my 30s. I say “darn” and “crap” and “shoot” just like my mom did. My husband laughs at me every time I hurt myself, because the only “curse” I ever say is “ouch”.

    My sisters curse all the time, though, so apparently I was the goodie goodie of the family. :)

    • Suzie says...

      I also say “ouch!” or “ow!” when I get hurt. It doesn’t come naturally to me to curse and I hate the sound of it. When I ride the city bus with school aged children (around ages 7-teens), every other word that comes out of their mouths is a swear word and it sounds awful and not intelligent. I think it’s definitely a habit you can develop or not develop, or break if you want to.

  22. Meredith says...

    I have two boys as well, aged 7 and 5.5. They do the same as Toby. “So and so said the s-word or the d-word or the p-word”. I don’t bite and ask them what those words are. No, we don’t swear in front of our children. I work in health care and it’s just not professional. I’m not someone who needs to do it in my personal life either.

    My eldest son recently admitted that at school, in the boys bathroom, under the sink, some dear child has written all the swear words. So, my son likely knows them all and has a daily reference point if he wishes! We can’t protect them forever but I do believe we can provide an example. We try our best to do that for them.

  23. Elizabeth says...

    Our 6yo son recently heard ‘shit’ on an otherwise innocuous seeming episode of River Monsters and he hasn’t forgotten it but he is such a rule follower (like me) I can’t imagine him using it. He told me off last week for swearing when I said “bloody”.
    My husband asked him recently to list the swear words he knows and our sons’ answer was “the s-word” (said with great solemnity), “shut up and bloody”. ???

  24. Kelly says...

    I don’t have much to add, but I’ve spent the last twenty minutes reading these comments out loud to my husband and dying laughing. Our favorite is “oh my friggin butt.”

    Both of us were raised to be pretty religious and found a lot of freedom in swearing when we were in college. Haven’t stopped yet.

  25. Amy says...

    Last week I was chatting with my five year old when he asked how penguins can eat a whole fish. I said “maybe it’s their freaky-ass tongues.” It just flew out of my mouth! I couldn’t stop laughing but he didn’t seem to notice ?.

  26. Savannah says...

    I cursed a lot as a child. I don’t know why. My parents didn’t curse. I got in trouble for cursing. I love cursing. I love language as a whole and I love how much energy cursing has, and just the door of expression it opens.

    If I have kids, I’m so fucked.

    • Ker says...

      LOL

    • Nikki B says...

      hahhaha your perfect line at the bottom had me chuckling at my desk.

    • Shelby says...

      This just made me guffaw at my desk!

  27. Karolina says...

    Do I swear??? I swear in four languages -depending on the severity of the situation. French for playfull cursing, German for minor catastrophes, English for everyday disasters. And Polish – my mother tongue – for everything is just fu***ng going to hell in a handbasket.

    • I love this!

    • This just reminded me that my son has picked up on my saying “Scheisse” as a way of avoiding swearing in English! He now uses it all the time, and I can’t help but laugh. His execution is perfect!
      Dammit, I wish I could swear in Polish, I bet it’s a great language to swear in!

    • Tessa says...

      I also swear in several languages! Now that I live outside of the U.S., English curse words have lost a bit of their emphasis as “fuck” and “shit” do not phase Israelis, even curse words in Hebrew/Arabic are relatively common, but I feel that both the English and Hebrew/Arabic ones are pretty crude so I will only swear in Hebrew and Arabic if I am pretty angry or annoyed. I usually use Portuguese and German on a daily basis for minor catastrophes and playfulness like you as the swearing is more lightweight IMO :) I like the art of swearing and that I can still swear in public without having most people know what I am saying (i.e. Portuguese) which still has the effectiveness of swearing without the looks.

    • Amanda G says...

      I love this comment! My grandma was born in the US not long after her parents immigrated here, and she spoke a lot of Polish – generally swear words, I think! My mom adopted saying “Jesus Mary and Joseph” in Polish as a phrase that always sounded like a curse but really wasn’t. It’s just too awesome and hilarious that Polish is you go-to for the ultimate say in swear words :)

  28. MA says...

    I have a pretty bad habit of swearing under my breath, unfortunately. My 11 year old son was baking a pie for thanksgiving recently and I was helping him with the oven part. We were trying to move the oven rack up a notch and he got very close to burning himself and yelled s@$*! Then he looked at me and said oh sorry… right as I was yelling F@#*! We both burst out laughing.

  29. Emily says...

    When I was about 17 months old, my mom took me to Sears to get my Christmas portraits done. I had on the cutest outfit with those ruffly butt bloomers, patent leather Mary Janes, the works. An older lady leaned over my stroller and exclaimed, “Well aren’t you just the cutest little thing?!” and I looked her right in the eye and said, “no shit!”

    • shira says...

      This is amazing!

    • JAR says...

      i just laughed out loud at this, amazing.

  30. Tristen says...

    When my son was two, he was playing in his room, and I heard him mutter under his breath, “fucking sucks.” I almost choked on my coffee. I poked my head in to see what he was so upset about, and found him with Dr. Seuss’s “Fox in Socks” in his lap.

    Whew! I still laugh thinking about that one.

  31. When my son was about 2, he used to say “oh, shit!” Often and of course, correctly.
    As a reformed potty mouth, I now say “Profanity!”

    Every now and then a 4 letter word pops out. Like when I banged my head inside a cabinet and chipped a tooth. That was a “shit!” Moment.

  32. Sara says...

    Growing up I had a friend whose family swore all. the. time! I spent the day at her house then went home and called my brother a d-bag.

    My sister was so shocked and surprised! “Do you know what that is???” “No, but it was written on their fridge.”

    She made me call my friend and ask for the definition! GROSS. Hard way to learn not to use words I don’t know the meaning of. :D

  33. Chloe says...

    There’s a large age gap between my youngest siblings and I, creating a delightful opportunity to watch them grown-up. When my baby brother was 5, he started strongly reprimanding people for using the f-word: fat. He was very conscious that it wasn’t said kindly and didn’t want anyone to ever feel embarrassed due to a thoughtless comment. A picture book called a squirrel “warm and fat”, to which he said, “What?! I thought this book was for children!!”

    • Ivy says...

      Just absolutely died at this.

    • Madame says...

      Hahahahahaha! I can hardly type that is so funny!

  34. Tracey says...

    Oh and! A cute story.

    My niece (9) recently got in trouble at school for saying the C word. The real C word. Everyone had tried to get her to stop but with no luck. She didn’t see the big deal. Much to her mother’s horror I said, “honey, you’re 9, if you start with the C word, you’ll have no where else to go and all the joy of swearing will be gone. Start with damn. Get back to me when that’s lost it’s lustre and I’ll give you a new one”.

    It’s a year on and she’s only up to ‘shit’ so I’m calling that a victory.

    • Lucy says...

      Genius!

      And you’re clearly the coolest aunt ever.

    • This is so brilliant!! I’m keeping this for future reference LD

  35. Sonja says...

    Growing up my catch phrase was, “That sucks.” My parents HATED it. I couldn’t curb the habit so they started charging me $2.50 whenever it slipped out. This tab grew large quite quickly and I adopted the more PG version of “That 250s!” It’s still a family favorite. I also coined, as a young adult, “fahkiddingme.” Short for “Are you f-ing kidding me?!”

  36. Candice says...

    I was brought up in a religious home where swearing was an absolute no go zone. These words held way to much power. Today we encourage our children to have power over their words. So in a tricky balance our children are allowed to use swear words in appropriate situations where no other words can express the anger,frustration, or pain that they are feeling. But also respecting that there are places where these words are offensive to others (school, grandmas house etc). As adults I feel we use these words as a release of negative energy – so why not give our children these tools also! This is also a good lesson in teaching the kids the significance a word’s meaning. For example, not to use the word ‘amazing’ unless something is truly amazing otherwise when something is amazing what word would they use?

    • jenn says...

      This. ^

    • Ellen says...

      I like this perspective.

  37. Casey says...

    My son (just six months shy of yours) also comes home and tests me on what he hears at school. I have taken an approach (that I am sure I read somewhere) to explain to him that all words have meanings and times to be used. So we talk about the word and why or where or when it might be appropriate and when it might not be. I was SO proud of him the other morning when he got so mad at his Dad over something (and clearly emotions were high) and he screamed “I wish I could use the middle finger at you.”

    • Kile says...

      Hahaha

  38. Tracey says...

    I swear like a sailor and I love it. Of course as an Australian it’s almost a legitimate part of our vocabulary (we swear A LOT).

    • laura-london says...

      An Australian myself, I lived in London for 8 years before returning to the Land of Oz to live. I was shocked at the level of foul language used in everyday conversation in the work space – was shocking. Wouldn’t have been tolerated in the UK. Needless to say, it took me about 6 months, but I slipped back into inserting swear words needlessly into conversation. Now back in the UK, I’ve really had to curb the swearing.

  39. Emma says...

    Your comment about Toby reminded me of a story about my 6 year old (now almost 15). We’d just moved to the midwest from a liberal city in the northwest. My son came home from his new school (first grade) and told me that he’d heard one of the kids say the “n-word”. I was HORRIFIED. I mean, thoughts of packing up our house and getting out of here occurred to me in that instant. Who were these kids my kids were in school with?! I asked him, still practically horizontal with shock, to whisper me the word so that we could talk about it honestly.
    “….Nicompoop”, he said with disdain.
    I love that story. Oh, we did have that conversation about the real n-word… and we still live here :)

  40. Janine says...

    One of my all time favorite stories from nannying: The mother of the children I watch once told me that their 3-year-old unlocked the back door and ran out of the house, making a bee line for the newly erected outdoor pool. Having heard the door open, the mother, father, and 5-year-old sister all ran outside in a panic to grab her before she reached the pool. Once her sister was safe, the 5-year-old threw her arms up in exasperation and exclaimed, “She’s going to f***ing kill us!”

    Needless to say, after that, they got a safety fence.

    • shira says...

      This is AMAZING! My husband and I often fell the same way about our 14 month old – daily heart attacks.

  41. Anonymous says...

    Being from NZ it cracks me up that “Damn” is considered a swear word!! Isn’t it strange, it’d be like “Fudge” being considered a swear word to Americans.

    • Samantha says...

      I’m from Canada and I was thinking the same thing!

  42. Chrissie says...

    It’s looking like I’m in the minority here but I’m a mom who swears! I have three kids ages 11, 8, and 4. My husband and I use swears conversationally but never out of anger (ie-“are you fucking kidding me??” While laughing). I swear sometimes while talking with the kids also but always in a lighthearted way (for example I’ll say “aw you Little shit!” while tickling or wrestling with them).

    Weirdest, and most surprising, thing is despite this my kids never swear. Maybe because we do it so casually we’ve taken the power out of the words in a way? I really have no idea. Just (fucking) winging it like everyone else.

  43. Monica says...

    Last year, I got the dreaded daytime phone call from my son’s elementary school… they put him on the phone right away, and he started crying and told me he got in trouble for saying the f-word. The Vice Principal got on the phone with me, and I had to confirm with her that we were talking about THE f-word, because in our house, f-a-r-t is a bad word, LOL!! I was POSITIVE he had never heard that word, and it turned out some mean boys told him the word and when he repeated it, they tattled on him. :( We did not punish him, and I explained to him that he did not know that word before, but now that he DID know, if we ever found out he said it, he’d be in BIG trouble! :) I have to say, I was shocked to be having this convo with a 7YO.

    • JAR says...

      my parents never swore when i was a kid, in fact i vividly remember the first time i heard my dad drop an F bomb when i was in highschool. on the other hand, have been swearing like a sailor since about 8 years old. i guess i picked it up at school because i have no older siblings.

      i def don’t realize how much i still swear until i’m around my 5 year old godson, who is for sure a parrot. he was singing quietly the other day and i nearly had a heart attack and asked him to sing a little louder so zia could hear. turns out it was bruno mars and he was saying “FUNK you up” as in “uptown funk” and not what i thought i heard/passed on, ha!

  44. Val says...

    My mom never missed an opportunity to say the word “Shit” and she also reveled in the fact that this was her “one word” and she could say it cause she mostly (emphasis on My ASS, mostly!) never said the other ones. Anyway, so my house had the S word, but over at my aunt’s house, it was spicy, spicy! She and my college-aged cousins seasoned most sentences with the F word, and all the others too. I remember thinking how progressive they were–how sophisticated! I know right? Not the response low brow language usually gets. But, they were educated, progressive, independent-thinkers, and to borrow from my mom, I just thought they were the shit!

  45. Cate says...

    When my son was about 2 1/2 he started loudly exclaiming “hock” about 20 times a day. Clearly my husband and I had let the f-word slip out in frustration a few too many times and he was copying with his own little 2 year old pronunciation. Luckily he got over it before it was even really recognizable as THAT word to anyone but us.

    It’s true what they say, if you want to know what you sound like, listen to your children.

  46. Bridget says...

    The f-word is going around my daughter’s first grade class. When a boy in her class asked if she knew it, I told her, “Don’t worry about it, just come to me when you learn it.” She asked why I couldn’t just tell her and I thought for a while responding, “Well, it’s not a bad word, it’s actually one of my favorite words. But it’s a word you can’t unknow, once you know it, it’s forever. And it’s also a word you can’t use in school, so I don’t want to burden you with a word you know but can’t use.” Hopefully she’ll come to me when she learns it… first grade seems young to me.

    • edie says...

      what a nice way of approaching this situation, Bridget! love the idea not “burdening her with a word.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, too. toby actually told me he didn’t want to learn the real f-word in case it would accidentally pop out of his mouth sometime!

  47. Jen says...

    My 7 year old never swears, but my 4.5 year old started saying “shits” (yep, she uses it in the plural) recently. We’ve talked about how it’s a very grownup word to use and how she needs to use it very carefully, and to be aware of who is present when she says it. We ask her to explain why she used it every time she says it, and it seems to have helped a lot. She still says it from time to time but is always ready with an explanation, and so far hasn’t used it in front of other children.

  48. Jessica says...

    When my sons were 8 and 9, I told them they could say all the bad words they wanted, but they had to be outside to do it. Needless to say, bad words became uninteresting pretty quickly!

  49. Denise says...

    I think it’s hilarious when kids swear when they’re little. It loses it’s charm in adolescence though. I love to swear but I keep it for just my friends circle, not in public or around the family.

  50. melissa says...

    My son wanted so badly to be able to use curse words without being scolded. For his 13th birthday he got “damn” and for his 14th he got “shit”. By the his 15th we gave up having input. But he never did swear much. My daughter, on the other hand, started cursing like a sailor in college.

  51. Julie says...

    So funny! My husband and I don’t have children but are both educators, and we debate all the time about whether cussing in front of our college students is appropriate (he says absolutely, FREE SPEECH and THEY’RE ADULTS, and I teach rhetoric so I say it’s all audience-dependent. I assign readings with profanity and we discuss it as as a persuasive tool, but I don’t cuss in my own teaching). We try to be mindful of people for whom profanity has been used not cheekily or colorfully, but to abuse and disempower them. That is worth being mindful of (especially in classroom settings!).

  52. Gennarina says...

    My younger sister and I were convinced that the f-word was fart! My mom kept that ruse up until we heard her slip up and use the real thing! I love Toby’s version, too :)

  53. Catherine says...

    I think every one (young and old) loves the thrill of the forbidden. So while my kids 1,3,5 know a few bad words, they get in trouble if they say them in everyday life. But recently, they got to ride a very loud little rollercoaster ride. I encouraged the 3 & 5 year old to think of the worst word they could think of and yell it at the top of their lungs when they were on the rollercoaster. Nobody could hear. But so dangerous! So exciting! I’m hoping that if my kids can find some thrills with us parents, they don’t go looking for all their thrills with their friends one day.

  54. Sandra says...

    Between my husband and me I am actually the worse swear-er, but I’ve tried so hard to clean it up since having our son (now 7). It’s also been the difference between living in the city and a small suburb. In the city my son grew up hearing “mother-f’er” on public transportation from the time he was a baby. Pretty much anything goes there. Here in the ‘burbs I just don’t hear people swear as much. Not being around it as much I’ve started to feel like swearing isn’t really the greatest way to present yourself to the world. You’ll never offend someone by NOT swearing, but swearing can upset other people, and it’s definitely not original or particularly interesting.

  55. Claire says...

    My son (4.5 at the time) and I were in the ER after hearing that he had a brain tumor. We were both devastated: me about the tumor, him because they took his chocolate milk.
    He looked up at me and says: “well, damnit.”

    I said, “oh buddy! We do say that word!!”

    He replied: “Mom, I know. We only say that when we’re really mad. Like when the hospital takes my chocolate milk, or we spill coffee in our cup holder!”

    Ha! Little love. I’m not pro kid-swearing, but when you find out you have a brain tumor, I feel like a “damnit” or two isn’t unwarranted. <3

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s absolutely warranted! haha what a love. how is he doing these days?

    • Claire says...

      My handsome guy died almost two years ago (gulp). I think of him every single second and am grateful to him for so many things—one of which is making me smile every time I hear someone say “damnit”. That’s just one of an uncountable number of things. <3 thanks for asking, Joanna!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so sorry to hear that, claire. he sounds like a wonderful, funny, beautiful person, and i’m sure you brought him great joy and comfort throughout his life. what was his name? now i’m going to smile when i hear “damnit,” too. :)

    • Claire says...

      His name was Jack. He was spectacular.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Sending all my love your way, and I’ll be thinking of that little man today. xoxoxoxo

  56. Amanda O says...

    Confession . . . My 2.5 year old said “Oh Shit” when her shoe was falling off and she was halfway climbing up a big slide, and then once “Dammit” when she hit her leg really hard on the rocking chair. I didn’t say anything. I kind of thought, well yeah, that’s an Oh Shit and a Dammit kind of situation. My husband was horrified.

  57. Tis says...

    Driving in heavy traffic in the rain, a guy cuts me off…my toddler pipes up from the backseat with perfect timing and tone, “Fuck sakes, eh, Mom?” Eeep!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahha

  58. Juliette says...

    My daughter came home from school and told us so and so had been in trouble for saying the S-word. We couldn’t believe it. Until we realized what the S-word was: Stupid !!!! Couldn’t stop laughing while she’s screaming “it’s not funny!!!”

    • Bean613 says...

      Just had this exact convo with my 6 yo daughter. She says, “mom, I want to use the s-word” (about something on tv) so I said ok and she goes, “that show is stupid”. Oh, the innocence!

  59. Claire Sexton says...

    I nearly died -of laughter- over Thanksgiving weekend when we were watching watching Ghostbusters (the original) with my 4 y/o son and something scared him and he exclaimed “What the shit!?”
    Me, his dad, and my SIL were there and were doing our best to laugh silently, but we all had tears streaming down our faces. He hears curses pretty regularly and I’m working on teaching him about places to say & not say certain things. He also loves to say “What the!” as though he’s about to say what the hell or WTF.

  60. Kathryn says...

    My mom came up with a very successful way of curbing my use of swear words – by luck or her own creation, only she knows. I started experimenting with swear words in middle school and whenever she caught me saying one, she would just laugh and tell me it sounded so funny coming out of my mouth. I’m an adult now, pregnant with my first, and still cringe when I swear because I’m convinced it sounds silly.

    • Christina says...

      That sounds like something that would work perfectly for middle schoolers and horribly for 5 year olds, whose goal in life is to be funny to Mom! Super cute :)

    • JB says...

      That is ultimate mom psychology!

  61. edie says...

    When I was about seven, my parents came home from a night out and my babysitter and I greeted them at the door.

    After some pleasantries my babysitter, Jo, gathered up her things. As she opened the door and headed outside, I waived to her and said, “Goodbye, whore!” My parents gasped, Jo laughed, and I quickly learned that word was not acceptable.

    My defense: I’d watched Disney’s Jungle Book that morning and I *think* there was a similar sounding word in that movie. Either way…that exchange has stuck with me!

    • Faith says...

      Hilarious!

  62. Years ago, my niece was 3 and she and I went to the grocery store. I hadn’t written a list–I figured that between the two of us we could remember what we needed. I gave her one item to remember: feta. She loved the stuff so I thought it would be a really easy thing for her to remember.
    We’re walking around the store and I said, “OK! Now, what was it that you were supposed to remember?” She looks at me real hard, like she’s trying to remember. I give her a hint. I say, “It starts with an F.” And I started making a series of F-sounds. This isn’t jogging her memory and she looks at me with a confused face and decides to guess, “Was it… ffffffffffffff…uck?”
    I laughed to the point of weeping in the middle of the fancy cheese section! Hahaha! No, dear, we’re not at the store to grab a fuck.

    • omg. i can’t stop laughing at this one <3

  63. Tristen says...

    Oh my god. One of my worst teacher-moments was when one my seventh graders was clearly upset and I pulled her aside and asked her what was wrong. She said one of her friends had called her the C-word. In disbelief, I said, “She called you a cunt?” My student looked puzzled and said, “No… she called me a piece of crap.” I was mortified.

    • Maclean Nash says...

      This is great!

    • hahahahahahaha

    • Ohhhhhh my gosh this is the best thing I’ve ever heard. Laughing so hard over here.

    • Katherine says...

      Oh my god my sides hurt from laughing so hard at this, but I am so sorry this happened! I’m a teacher too (elementary), and I’ve had several foot in mouth humiliating moments myself; they’re just the worst!

  64. Musilla says...

    Because I try so hard to say ‘oh sugar’ instead of ‘oh shit’ my four year old daughter now says ‘oh sugar’ with such emphasis that is sounds like she’s censoring herself to be polite!
    She also once explained that ‘Jesus’ is what mummy says when she’s cross and folds her arms. Oops

  65. Anna says...

    I still have a very vivid association with the f-word from when I was in first grade. A little group of my classmates were whispering about it being written on the wall of the girl’s bathroom and I asked what it was and what it meant. One of the girls (still remember her freckly face so clearly from this moment!) looked at me very seriously and said, “Um, if you go hunting with your dog, and you try to shoot a deer but you shoot your dog by mistake, that’s when you would use that word.” Yikes! But…true.

    • edie says...

      oh my goodness – hysterical! I bet she felt so important in that moment.

  66. jill says...

    haha! this is good and i can relate! i was not allowed to swear and rarely did while my mom was alive. with my oldest (now 20), she was raised same as me…no swearing. bbbut now with my 14 + 13 year old, i am a little more relaxed! when they complain or do something that frustrates me, i say ‘damn kids’ in a very light hearted way with a smirk. and this has turned into them replying with ‘damn parents’ in the same light hearted tone! i think it is cute because just like us, they get frustrated too! other than that, they don’t swear…UNLESS they are telling me what someone said in a story and will first ask ‘can i just say what they said?’ and that always means there is a swear involved :) i just love kids!

  67. Nora says...

    One of my students said, “My dad said don’t say ‘Goddamn it!’ at school!” and another student chimed in and said, “Yeah, and you also don’t say fuck it!” I had to turn away to hide my laughter.

  68. Joanna C says...

    We were at the dining table recently when my five year old son dropped his fork, then muttered something under his breath. I asked him to repeat what he said, but he didn’t want to. I assumed it was a swear word and assured him I wouldn’t get angry but wanted him to be honest. Looking very sheepish, he told me he’d said “boobies”. How I kept a straight face I’ll never know!

  69. Amanda says...

    My parents rarely swore in front of us as kids, but I do remember my mom getting exasperated a few times and wanting to say “sh*t” but yelling “sugar jets” instead. I find it so cute and funny now.

    Also word to Toby – I totally thought the f-word was fart until 3rd grade.

  70. Anne says...

    One of my all time favorite family stories is about my daughter, Claire. She was a sweet almost angelic child with a hoLo of long sandy curls, chubby rosy cheeks and a sweet little voice. When she was three and my in-laws were in town from Oregon visiting us in Michigan she was curled up on her Grampa’s lap reading a book to him. It was a precious scene. Anyway she made mistake in her reading and said, “Oh shoot!” and then looked up at her Grampa with big, knowing green eyes and said, “I said shoot because we are not allowed to say f@%$!” I just about died!!! Luckily my dad-in-law had a great sense of humor and it became one of his favorite stories to tell. He always says he was expecting her to say “s#@!” and not jump all the way to the f bomb!! Ugh!

    My rationalization… a study out of the University of Rochester did find that people with a large vocabulary of swear words tend to be highly intelligent and have a high skill for rhetoric. And my cute, sassy, inappropriate 3 year old is now a sophomore at the University of Michigan (Joanna, I thought you’d like that) and has turned out quite well:)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      go blue!! :)

  71. Lindsay E says...

    My bestie has a little girl who is almost 4. When she started repeating adults, the grown ups in their house started saying “Kittens” in place of swear words, which is so funny. It is THE BEST when little E gets frustrated about something and exclaims “OH TITTENS!!” I die every time.

    • Robin says...

      Omg the best!!

  72. Daniela says...

    My friend, a nanny, said one of her charges cannot curse unless it’s about shrimp. She apparently LOVES it so her parents let her say “I fucking love shrimp!” She’s three and never uses a curse word otherwise. I think it’s kind of hilarious, and maybe it’s similar to when parents let their teenagers have a glass of wine so they don’t feel the need to go out and binge on alcohol?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, so so funny.

  73. Raia says...

    This topic has been on our minds lately, too. My husband and I typically don’t swear, but I made the mistake of showing my 7 year old and 3 year old kids a (really cool, very funny) YouTube channel by Simone Giertz about robots. I didn’t realize how many swear words she uses ! But my kids love the videos – so funny! robots doing silly things! – the swear words are not directed at others, so I try to convince myself it’s OK for them to hear the words. They misheard her say the name of her channel and ask for Shippy Robots videos. And we talk about how they are grown up words, and not to say them at school. But I wonder if I am a bad parent for introducing them to Sh*tty Robots on YouTube. It’s better than picking them up on the school bus, right?

  74. My daughter has definitely picked up my “curse” words…luckily I have spent a lot of my life in churches and my vocabulary shows it, so the “naughty” thing she delights in saying is “Oh my gosh, oh my dear!” I react in shock when she says it, though…I’m hoping that if I give her the thrill that comes from saying a naughty word, she will just stick with the “bad words” that she knows and won’t learn new ones!

  75. Kate says...

    A few years ago, when my son was five-years-old, he asked my husband what the worst word in the world was. My husband replied that he couldn’t tell him because then my son would maybe use it. So my son asked “Is it dirty devil?” My husband replied that yes, that was it. Not four hours later, at the dinner table with both sets of grandparents, I asked my son to leave the table as he was goofing around with his cousin. In a fit of rage, he busts out “You’re a dirty devil!!!” Needless to say, dirty devil has since become my family’s go-to curse word!

  76. steph says...

    I work with tweens and teens. I look a lot at intent. If a word flies out of their mouth, I give a stern warning and they usually apologize. If they really mean it or if they call someone a bad name, I am stricter. If they use a word that’s not a swear word but is unkind, I them that they have a better vocabulary than that and I expect better of them. Sometimes that hits them harder than a punishment.

    • Anna says...

      I love this approach. Swear words in the mouths of kids those ages usually just make me roll my eyes or laugh (you must think you’re soooo cool!!) but mean words, especially ones around identity or ability, can be so heartbreaking to hear.

  77. I have such vivid memories of when my parents swore, because it was so rare. My Dad would use a good ol’ fashioned “damn!” every once in a while. Most notably, when a chipmunk managed to get in the house and my sister and I were standing atop the kitchen island, screaming our little lungs out. To this day, I think I’ve only heard my mom swear once, when she stepped on the wrong part of the boat trailer. It bent and broke. The boat wasn’t harmed but the image of my mother using the word “shit” will forever be in my memories ha!

  78. Laurie says...

    My 7 year old son came up with the idea of bleeping out his own swear words before he has the chance to say them. For example, the other day he dropped something on his foot and yelled, “Ow, my booooop toes!” Or I’ll hear him quietly mutter under his breath when his pencil lead breaks, “Boop.”

    • Anne says...

      Hahahahahahahahahaha

    • Ellen says...

      HAHAHA! “Boop!”

  79. Cristina says...

    That’s so funny! I have no kids myself, but I’m a kindergarten teacher and I have a 2-year-old student who is obsessed with horses and usually calls everyone “dumb”. So the other day, he was fighting with another kid over some toy and I clearly heard him scream “dumb” to his classmate, I asked “what did you just say?” and he answered “horse” with the sweetest smile on his face… I had to go hide because I couldn’t help but laugh, hahaha

  80. Caitlin says...

    I don’t have kids yet, but I’m 28 and I still don’t swear. I find myself swearing in my head sometimes when I’m really mad, but I have yet to intentionally swear (out loud) in front of anyone I know. I wonder how much longer I can keep it up given that I work in the construction industry…

    • Carol says...

      I did this and my 9 year old does it, too. She is pretty mild-mannered overall, so I anticipate she will continue to keep swearing in her head. The funny part is that she has no poker face, and I’ll call her out on it from time to time. She always admits to it!

  81. Colleen S. says...

    I didn’t cuss much as a kid, even though my dad was frequently spewing them out. When I worked at my first retail job, my male boss wouldn’t cuss because he was religious, so he’d say “sugar” or other things, which I’ve adapted. I also made up my own cuss words, like “son of a monkey spank” or “jingle bells”, which I admittedly stole from a Christmas episode of Living Single.

  82. cam says...

    Growing up, my aunt and uncle never swore. When my cousin was in second or third grade he asked my mom (his aunt) if she knew about the F word. She told him that she did. He was in shock and whispered back, “it’s so bad, I don’t even think my parents know about it.”

  83. Greta says...

    I was raised to never swear or take the Lord’s name in vain in even the slightest sense. But, as I have gotten older, I have started saying the occasional, “Oh my gosh.” Recently, one of my third grade students heard me say “gosh,” and he emphatically replied, “You can’t say that. It is very sinful.” I wanted to LOL so hard, but I had to keep it together and tell him I would try harder not to say it!!!!

  84. Leah says...

    My 5 y/o made up his own curse- “stupid hat racks!” Well, now my 3 y/o picked it up, but he’s not sure which is the bad word, so he’ll often just yell “hat racks!” when he’s mad. It sounds so comical in his little 3 y/o accent: “hat wacks!” My husband and I have even adopted it as a cleaner version of our typical swear words.

  85. Heather says...

    I usually only swear at the dog if she does something bad, “Dammit Daisy, get off the table.” My four-year-old has picked it up and will yell at the dog when the need arises, but she says, “Dan-it Daisy!” which I think is hilarious.

    I also used to teach kindergarten and a little girl once came to me and said, “Somebody said the ‘O’ word.” Usually I would not ask a kid to repeat a swear word, but I was so curious what the “O-word” was and she said, “Oh Shit!”

  86. sarah says...

    I remember the night last year over dinner when my kindergartner was talking about school. “Mom, do you want to know how many rude words Luke knows?” she asked. I mentally cringed but said yes, bracing myself for a list of expletives (my daughter never forgets a word). “ALL of them!” she said.

  87. i always had THE WORST potty mouth and i tried my best to curb it when my first was born in 2009. since then i have totally toned it down (in front of them) but, to be honest, it’s HARD. when my son was 4 he dropped his ant farm on the floor and said loud and clear (and appropriately i may add) “OH SHIT!” i tried not to laugh… but i would’ve said the same thing!
    the way i explain it to my kids is that swear words are not pretty coming out of anyone’s mouth especially the mouths of kids. but part of being an adult is being able to choose how you sound to other people. they get it for the most part (they are 6 and 8) but they don’t really know what the words mean. the other day in the car my 6 year old said “mama, i know what the middle finger means!” when i asked her to explain it to me (and her older brother) she said “Fuck! But mama, that’s not as bad as the other F word…” and then, when i pressed her. she whispered “frickin'”! when i asked her how she knew it she said cheerfully “you do it all the time when you drive!”
    busted.

  88. Susan says...

    We don’t swear in front of the kids, maybe we have once or twice, but using bad language in front of the kids is something we are careful not to do. I know – probably makes us sound like goody-two-shoes. I’m realistic about swears, and I know the kids will use those words with their friends and that’s fine. I’m also happy to tell them what the words mean when they ask. But I want them to learn that speaking that way in front of teachers, their friend’s parents, and other adults is not appropriate, in my opinion. It’s something we feel strongly about. Even as an adult, I’ll swear occasionally with my friends, but never with people I don’t know or in a work setting.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      absolutely! it’s so important that they don’t swear at school, etc.

  89. Jo says...

    My nephew once shared with his mom, in secrecy, that the older kids in the neighborhood were talking about the B word and how it’s a very bad word.. curious, my sister asked if he knew what was this infamous B word.. he said yes, and earnestly whispered.. “it’s bananas” lol!!

  90. zandie says...

    I’m a big fan of shit and dammit, both said kind of under my breath in a hiss, through gritted teeth. My kids both have said it over the years (with my exact same delivery) and it’s SO FUNNY but we have to try not to laugh, and we tell them it’s not ok… but then I slip up and inevitably say it again a week later :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha kids are so infamous for echoing what you say, both good at bad. so funny that they do the same delivery!

  91. Vicky says...

    My British husband find it weird and geeky that I kind of change the curse words – I will say “shoot” instead of “shit” for example. I can’t remember how I started doing that, as I didn’t grow up speaking English, so it can’t have come from my parents. But I am thankful foe the habit now that I have a toddler repeating everything I say (spent the whole supermarket trip today telling everyone who would listen that “Georgie has a penis”). I say effing instead of f@&ing, and have added ” to the list after discovering the good place :-).

    • Vicky says...

      Sorry about all the typos!! Typing on the phone ain’t easy…

  92. kelsey says...

    My friend is a 2nd grade teacher and one day at recess a little girl ran up to her crying and saying a mean boy had called her the ‘B-word’. Thinking it was probably ‘butthead’, my friend asked the girl what it was the boy called her.

    “He called me a…a…a BAGINA!”

    • DIANA says...

      HAHAHAHAHAHA

    • DIANA says...

      My mom doesn’t swear at all. She just never picked it up as a habit and I’d never heard a single curse out of her mouth in all my 28 years. One day she was talking about a rude woman at the Macy’s beauty counter and started to say “she’s such a…” and trailed off. I was so excited, I had to egg her on. “Such a what? Such a WHAT, mom?” She glanced around and in the tiniest whisper she said “a bi..itch”

  93. Liz says...

    When my son Leo was born, he looked just like his dad. From day 1 it was like I gave birth to my husband and that lasted for years. I started to wonder if he had any part of my gene pool. One day when Leo was around 3, we were walking to our car and he picked up a dandelion. He quickly made a wish and blew with all of his might but the dandelion wouldn’t budge. He tossed it over his shoulder and yelled “It’s fucked!” and for a split second my first thought was “he sounds just like me, finally a little mini me was somewhere in there”. Leo is now 14 and looks just like me…. gorgeous and can sometimes even make a sailor blush.

    • Jodi says...

      Haha!

  94. Christina says...

    I had actually never sworn in front of my kids until about four years ago when I accidentally closed the car door on my daughter’s finger! I said “sh%t!!”
    After she recovered from the shock and realized she was ok, both she and my son cracked up laughing and said “she swears because she cares!”

  95. Renee says...

    It’s amazing that he hasn’t picked up more colorful swear words from us, but we still have our moments. My son just turned five, and we went to get a flu shot. He yelled, “Jesus Christ” and the elderly nurse just froze. He must have seen the look on my face…because he quickly corrected, “I mean, Jesus IS Christ. Uh, the Lord?” The nurse died laughing, so now we’re never going to be able to break the habit!

    • Katie says...

      I’m literally laughing out loud, he’s quick on his feet!!!

  96. Katie says...

    I swear like a sailor and I think I’ve heard my husband curse maybe 10 times in the last 8 years so our kids colorful vocab is all on me. I used to joke I was really glad my kid had a speech delay because nobody could understand him if he did let one fly. I ignore it if they say something now and I plan on handling this like I handle nose picking, totally fine if it’s in our own home or car but not something we do in front of others ;)

  97. Lana says...

    Hahahah! Yes! My kids (7 and 3) have both sworn before and it’s hatd to correct them without giggling a little. The first was my seven year old. She was playing in the sandbox and the wind kicked up and blew some sand in her eyes. I could see from across the yard that she was really frustrated and upset (sand in your eyes SUCKS!!) and suddenly se just yelled, “FUCKING WIND!!!!!!” I about died! I corrected her and told her we don’t say that word, but then I called my husband and boasted in her excellent delivery of the word “fuck”.
    We are getting ready to have a boy (2 weeks away! Gah!) and my three year old has asked lots of questions about if the baby will have a vagina. When I said he’ll have a penis she started saying “penis” all the time, so we told her it’s not a word to say it public. Now she say, “I heard so and so say the “S” word! You know…penissssssssss.”

  98. maya says...

    my boys are the same age as yours and we’ve had some funny moments too –

    my 4.5 year old is constantly saying “oh my friggin butt” – of course none of it is curses, but still not nice language. he does say it at all the right moments and it’s hard not to laugh.

    when my older boy was 6 he said “mom i know the g word” i racked my brain thinking what it was and when i asked, he said “jesus crisis”. which of course led to spelling, religion and curse conversation, all before 8am.

    • Kimmie says...

      Hahah, great early morning lessons.

  99. Heather says...

    I love that part from Bird by Bird.

    I cleaned my language right up when we had kids, but my husband did not, and for a while there we fell into this annoying dynamic in our relationship in which every time he swore I would say, “language!” — like he’s my child instead of a grown adult who can talk however he pleases. At some point I picked a new path: acceptance. Let’s face it: my children are going to learn swear words no matter what I do, and besides, most intelligent, funny people I know swear sometimes – usually for dramatic or comic emphasis. The important thing is that they not swear in a way that hurts people’s feelings, which fits into a larger lesson of “treat people with respect.” I want my kids to always ask me when they’ve heard a word they don’t know, and not be afraid I’ll be mad if they say it out loud. I’d rather they ask me what a c–t is before calling someone by that name, right? I’ve warned my older son that if he uses swear words at school he’s probably going to get in trouble because his teachers will find it rude, and that other people might not like it, but I trust him to learn good judgment about these things just like the rest of us have, and meanwhile conserve my psychic energy if he says “damn it” when he falls off his bike.

    • Kara says...

      Love your comment! My husband and I swear in front of our kid (knowing full well we should clean up our language) and the thought of getting him to stop is my biggest, most exhausting barrier. Honestly I grew up in a house full of swearing and always knew not to do it (and didn’t until I was an adult), so I think your point about teaching your children to treat others with respect and to be a respectful citizen in general is what matters most here.

  100. Heidi says...

    Pretty sure the only reason my 2-year old hasn’t said the “f” word (which my husband still frequently says) is because he can’t yet make the “f” sound, so he often substitutes “d” for “f”. That and he has trouble when k’s are in the middle of a word, rather than at the beginning. I keep listening for “ducting toy” or “ducting” anything. It’s only a matter of time.

  101. This is so timely. Over Thanksgiving my in-laws were visiting. It was a grueling weekend since having dinner with my MIL is like having tea with the Queen of England. I have three boys so you can imagine the behavior at times. On the night before they left my MIL expressed shock and concern because she overheard my youngest say – the “D word”. I was surprised and shared my disbelief he would say that. After a few more seconds of discussion I clarified with them that the word was “d*ck”… much to my relief that was not the word at all and I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Damn, I was worried!”

  102. Edan says...

    I swear all the time around my kids, and I’ve made it clear that cursing is a privilege that comes with adulthood. They seem to understand that when they are grown-ups with jobs and bills they will get to curse (and stay up late, etc.!) We’ve also talked about how cursing may be appropriate in some contexts but not others. I think, with my six year old, it’s opened up some enlightening conversations about language and its function(s) in society.

    When my kids have experimented with a swear word I’ve told them they can’t talk that way, and why, but I don’t make a big deal out of it. Since it didn’t get a rise out of me, they didn’t curse again.

    Also, my mom never curses and I do all the time, so maybe my kids will end up being Ned Flanders-types and never ever say anything bad!

    • Amy says...

      This was the understanding I grew up with, too! Swearing was for adults just like drinking alcohol. Makes sense to me! I have been largely unsuccessful cleaning up my mouth around my kids and plan to use this line of reasoning as they get older but my husband is skeptical about my approach haha.

  103. I made the horrible mistake of laughing when my 2-year old first busted out with “goddamn it” and it somehow encouraged him to keep saying despite me telling him to stop. We have no idea where he picked it up from but he was saying it a lot for a few weeks, mostly for effect. For example, he would shout it in the middle of Target and when I told him not to say that word he responded with, “Okay, I won’t say GODDAMN IT anymore.” Then followed up with, “Mommy, we don’t say GODDAMN IT in the store, right?” Like, he was being sneaky about how to say it! I finally figured out that if I stopped responding or just ignored it and changed the subject, he’d stopped saying it. Luckily, I think he’s finally moved one because it’s been about a month since his last g.d. bomb. lol.

  104. oh man. this comes up all the time in our house, now that our almost two-year-old is shocking us daily with the words she suddenly knows. my husband and I both have fairly filthy mouths, especially in regards to the “f” word, so it’s hard to stop! But I really don’t want my daughter to be the one teaching kids bad words at school, or getting a note sent home (God forbid)! My mom NEVER swore…”crap” was as bad as it got, I think.

    Road rage makes it hard (we live in L.A.). Just yesterday I was irritated with another driver and called them “darling” and my husband noticed I’d been doing that a lot lately. I told him I couldn’t say “idiot” or “stupid” or whatever anymore, with our toddler always listening in the backseat! I remember my mom always called other drivers “Chickadee” or “Parnelli” :)

  105. Kirstin says...

    My 7 year old son charges his grand parents for swearing (makes a fortune) but he never fines me – he says he is aware that I have a lot to deal with and is thus understanding. He fines his dad though – his dad is an artist and he says that there is nothing stressful about pianting all day.
    My aunt told me that when her son started to swear she took him aside and said that whilst it wasn’t for her to demand how he speak, she wanted him to be aware that his friend’s parents might not appreciate it and they might ask their child not to play with him, because some people think swearing indicates a likliness to be very naughty.

    • Kirstin says...

      oh and my step mother is from New Zealand, and her grandkids started saying “shit” with a NZ accent so everyone knew she was the culprit.

  106. Sasha says...

    These stories are the BEST! :)
    I didn’t used to swear much, but this last year, I find myself saying things like *fucking fuckers* and *oh for fucking fuckity fucks sakes*.
    When I’m feeling a bit more classy, I use British swear words I’ve picked up from TV. *bloody bastard knob* *fuck trumpet* *wanker twat waffle*.
    My language could use a clean up :( Also if maybe the world would stop giving me so much to fucking swear at.
    My girls are grown, and shockingly, swear a lot.

  107. Katie says...

    I teach third grade, and I often hear myself saying “dadgummit!” I’m originally from Arkansas but teach in Northern Virginia. My students think it’s the funniest thing. Other “teacher swears” that make me giggle are “cheese and crackers” and “good gravy.”

    • My sister teaches high school and she’s replaced the f-word with farts. I get a lot of texts from her saying “oh for fart’s sake!” I’m impressed she’s managed to do it so well…she had quite a mouth on her as a teenager!

  108. I grew up in a family full of sailors and bikers (all the men in my family were Navy but two, and my grandfather was in a motorcycle gang in the 40’s), so swearing was inevitable and unavoidable. My parents had to just make the rule of, don’t swear in front of your grandparents, don’t swear at school, otherwise whatever. There have been studies that people that swear are more intelligent and have a broader vocabulary! So stay f’ing classy, bitches. ?

  109. maggie says...

    I remember years and years ago my brother solemnly whispering to my mom that he knew the f word… “farce.” No idea where that came from, or where he had even heard the word farce, so random! My mom absolutely lost it.

  110. Dana says...

    From my darling 5 year old’s kindergarten teacher (!) – apparently my son finished some assignment or project and then was messing around in the classroom and then looked up at her and said: “Mrs Brown! What the fuck are we doing?” Haha. If only she knew that’s kind of our parenting motto so no wonder the kid dropped it at school – WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING?!?!?!

    • Tess says...

      Love IT! Straight to the point with the frustration of feeling clueless but desperately wanting to know!

  111. kiki says...

    oh man, we’re the worst about this. especially in music. my 4-year old is on a Kayne kick right now. KAYNE!!! i’m equal parts horrified and proud. How do you guys balance this??? there’s no way i’m doing the kids bop thing…there’s got to be a happy medium!!

  112. Leah says...

    I love this post so much! My husband and I come from very religious backgrounds and growing up, swearing was a *huge* no-no, second only to missing church. Now that we are adults though and have left that life and those beliefs behind us, I f*cking love to swear. ;)

    We have two little boys now, and I try my hardest to not swear around them, but they pick up on it when I let some slip out. Yesterday, we were at the zoo with my in-laws, who are still very religious. To them, saying “oh my god” is really really bad, since it’s taking God’s name in vain. Well, we were in the reptile area of the zoo, and my 3 year old saw this huge snake and in his loudest toddler voice yelled “OH MY GOD, MAMA LOOK AT THAT SNAKE!” My poor mother-in-law about had a heart attack. I cringed inside, but my husband and I laughed about it later. What can you do? ??‍♀️

  113. Boni says...

    When my son was in preschool he told his teacher that his mom used the f-word. Luckily he continued and said, “she says “fudge” all the time!” Whew! I was pretty nervous while his teacher was relating this story to me.

  114. Meggie Simmons says...

    Ha! My first grade son also came home with the f word last week but unlike Toby he nailed both pronunciation and spelling. However he then confessed he also knew the S word. I asked what that was and he looked at me with serious eyes and said, “stupid.” :)

  115. Sam says...

    I am easily agitated while driving, especially in evenings coming home from daycare. When my son was 1.5 yrs old, he was playing with trucks at school and when there was a “traffic jam” he said “fucking road”. His teachers double checked what they thought they had misheard and he repeated it clear as day. I’ve since tried to clean up my act….

  116. Lisa says...

    My husband and I swear often and have no problem with it. When our kids (5 year old twins) swear, I never even acknowledge it. It happens very infrequently, I think because we haven’t turned it into a thing. I must say, my heart swelled with pride the first time my son used “oh fuck” properly. I *do* tell the kids sometimes, “I don’t care if you say that word, but you might get in trouble if you say it in school or in front of Grammy.” Some studies have shown that people who swear tend to have wider vocabularies in general. The words I completely disapprove of are ones that are used to promote unkindness, stereotypes and bigotry.

    • Sara says...

      Hi Lisa,
      Just wanted to say I totally endorse this perspective! My daughter hasn’t started talking yet, but I don’t think I’ll care if she swears. They are just words after all. I heard another parent once say that their rule was that swearing was ok as long as it wasn’t directed at someone (e.g. “oh, shit, I dropped something” is ok, but “you’re a bitch” isn’t). I liked that mindset, and it’s one I probably will employ, in addition to the lesson that swearing isn’t appropriate for all situations.
      I’ve also heard that people who swear are more trustworthy, so there’s that?
      Signed,
      A fellow fucking swearer
      P.S. Even though I’m a swearer, I’m kind of giggling at all the profanity in the comments today.

    • Yes! We say “fuck” all the time (in the way you are talking about), but racist words, or the c-word, or even calling a woman a bitch are all unacceptable for me!

    • Sasha says...

      Fucking brilliant Lisa! Thank you for this. Yes to kind words above all.

    • Lauren says...

      That’s how I was raised and I turned out pretty fucking good, I think :)

  117. Mona says...

    Kids cursing is hysterical… and terrible, of course. My 2 year old has us in fits of laughter these days. She can’t say “sparkling” — instead it comes out as “fuck-a-ling.” And she’s only saying it about 90x a day with all the Christmas lights! Hahaha.

  118. Jeri says...

    I try to follow the independence-within-strict-boundaries approach to parenting my 2 yo (a la Bringing Up Bebe) so I have this idea in my head that if/when she starts swearing I’ll talk to her about “potty language”. The idea being that if she wants to swear, she can only do it in the bathroom. Ha!

    Though the other day I dropped something and said “sh*t” and from across the room I heard her little voice repeat the word. Oops! LOL

  119. Meghan says...

    I grew up in the Bay Area, and a childhood friend of mine is dating Anne’s son, Sam – this is such a fun story to share!

  120. Kelly says...

    I was scared straight by my nanny when my older daughter was still pre-verbal. Nanny was super duper polite and probably never swears and she was relating to me in shocked tones stories of young kids swearing and asking “where would they even learn that language?” I mentally resolved to clean up my swearing act around my kids! In real life, I love to swear and do it all the time! But i’ve been pretty good around kiddos. My problem now is music – my 7 year old is picking out all kinds of bad words in songs – she knows it’s different rules for the singers than for her, and thankfully isn’t using the words herself – but it’s exposure I’d rather she didn’t have (but, we love music and not sure how to set up our lives so that she never hears music with bad language).

  121. Kristin says...

    What excellent timing. Just last week, as I was walking my 5 year old to school he told me that he knows the worst f-word and then said “flucking” with a quick follow up to that with “fluck”. I had to pick my jaw up off the ground! He told me a friend a school told him, but now he keeps asking what it means. I’m hoping he forgets all about it!

  122. My mom particularly was always swearing when we were growing up! She had six of us kids. I totally get it now, as a mother.

    I do my best not to swear, and have definitely come a long way in finding worthy substitutes. “Fudge” is probably my most used ;)

    Fortunately, and I tell anyone who will listen, I nipped the cursing in the bud. My son (almost 4 at the time) was playing a game on the tablet at my feet while I was reading a book on the couch. All of a sudden he said “Damn it!” – I was shocked! But since he couldn’t see my face, I thought quickly. I said, “what did you say?!” and he replied “nothing.” I got up, gently took the tablet from his hands, and carried him to the kitchen sink and started lathering my hands in soap. He asked what I was doing, and I calmly said, “I’m just going to wash your mouth really quick. This won’t take long. Just open your mouth.”

    He was so scared, and so apologetic, that he was able to swerve the soap meal until another day. There are many things we have yet to learn, but swearing isn’t one of them. Today, you couldn’t pay that kid a million chocolate coins to say a swear word! I think the key was keeping calm at the time it happened, and in a matter-of-fact way saying, “welp, this is what happens when you’ve said bad words. Sorry bud. It’ll be over soon!” – but it certainly hasn’t helped my habit of letting words slip, because now he knows and lives that we can say whatever words we want when we are adults. Oops.

  123. Jill says...

    One afternoon when we arrived home, we discovered our unsent letters had blown off our mailbox into our yard, and then it had rained. My 4-year-old daughter walked up to them, put her hands on her hips, sighed and said, “Cheeses!” My husband looked at me and rolled his eyes. I guess I do say “Jesus” in frustration every once in a while. :-)

  124. Lucy in England says...

    Oh Flimflam! Oh fluff sticks. Oh fiffer faffer feff (thank you Dr Seuss for that one.)

    We had to clean up our language post kids too. I swear like a trooper after bedtime though- it’s like a dam bursting.

    Although my toddler says “bullocks” instead of “bollocks” and thinks that’s what I say as it’s the one I just can’t quite seem to kick. Naughty nosy bullocks in the next door field to our house make it ok.

    • Lucy in England says...

      For the uninitiated,

      Bullocks = steers.

      Bollocks = testicles, swear.

  125. Helene L says...

    I deflect swear words by convincing my kids that they’ve heard something more innocuous. For instance,in Bruno Mars’ song “That’s what I like” which is always on the radio when I’m driving my kids around, I turn “sex by the fire at night” turns into “six by the fire at night” when I sing along. F** is “fug”. “Sh*t” is sheet. It is kind of fun!

  126. Abigail says...

    I don’t have children yet, but this reminded me of a great interview Dax Shepherd gave on the Ellen show about his own daughter swearing that had me laughing out loud. I highly recommend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fxjT6sKW-M

  127. Liza says...

    I have a pretty dirty mouth as an adult, but the only time I remember getting in trouble for cursing was when I told my 4th grade teacher to screw off. It was under my breath about the fact that I wasn’t done my test yet. That did not go over well. My parents still laugh about the time when I spent a long weekend with my much older cousins when I was in Kindergarten and according to my mom I walked in the front door after the long drive home and said, Goddamnit! I really need to take piss!

  128. em says...

    my mother-in-law did something amusing after one of her young sons developed a fascination/use of swear words: she told he was allowed 5 free ‘passes’ at using swear words (without getting in trouble for them) while he was a kid. he reveled in excitement with exactly when he’d choose to use one and it subsequently curbed his use elsewhere

    • Meredith says...

      We were allowed 1 per month growing up! :)

  129. Reminds me of a funny moment a couple weeks ago with my 9yo niece when we were getting ready to go out with the family. I dropped an earring on the floor and whispered, “f**k.” She giggled and said, “Whoa, Aunt B. Never thought I’d hear that word come out of your mouth.” I panicked and said, “Don’t tell your mother I said it. Also don’t ever say use that word.” She laughed and promised to keep the secret. I can remember a very similar moment with my mom’s sister, so I guess it’s a family tradition now. Our kids are doomed. ;)

  130. Alissa says...

    My mom loves to tell the story about when I, around 2 or so, was playing with cars on the floor and then swore. She asked me where I had heard that word, and I told her on Sesame Street! She then told me that they don’t use words like that on Sesame Street, and apparently I very seriously responded, “But Mom, Oscar gets really mad sometimes.”

  131. Andreea says...

    My daughter says “oh manit” all the time when something goes wrong which makes me secretly smile. Sometimes she’ll even say, “oh manit, right mom?”

  132. Jennie says...

    The boys in his class are talking about the ‘f’ word but my 7 yo jack thinks idiot is a swear word. I have accidentally said f%#k when I banged my head and got into trouble from him. I have talked to him about using it so that it’s not a taboo and he knows it’s not a novelty, I’m not sure whether that works or not.

  133. When I was a baby my dad worked in the oil fields in West Texas, and had a CB in his car. Long story short, my first word was the F-word. My mom tells everyone it was birdie!

    My husband and I both swear in front of our kids, despite our best efforts! Sometimes we swear because of them, tbh. Luckily I’ve only heard one swear word out of my daughter and when I asked where she heard it she said “Daddy.” Phew! Bullet dodged!

  134. Laura says...

    We actually swear a fair amount, but have reined it in in front of the children–although I was alerted by his teacher that my 5 year-old said “Dammit!” when he was frustrated by a math problem. Since he does have a pretty mild vocabulary, the things he comes up with when he IS steaming mad are pretty hilarious. I mean, how can you not laugh when an angry child yells as you, “You rotten chicken!”

  135. Lashley says...

    My 3 year old has been known to say “f***in’ dogs!” from time to time. He hears that from both of his parents! ?

    Lately, he tests the waters with “Stupid thing!” which he learned from an Oliver Jeffers book!

  136. I was 6.5 when my sister was born, and it took me years to accept that I was no longer an only child and had to share my parents. (Thankfully I eventually got over myself and now we’re very close!) But one of my first memories of being delighted by her was when she was about 3, and we were playing “Ladies” — a make believe game involving dress up clothes and very proper behavior. We were sauntering around the driveway when she suddenly stopped in her tracks and said, in her adorable toddler attempt at a British accent and a perfect impression of a frustrated adult, “Oh damn, I forgot my purse.”

    My parents never swore much when we were kids (I was in my teens before I heard my mom say “shit!”) so it was extra scandalizing and hilarious that she had somehow picked up on this grownup behavior and so perfectly nailed the delivery.

  137. Stephanie Thomas says...

    When asked by a young dad what he planned to teach his daughter about swear words my boss–a true wordsmith–said, “I’ll teach her not to swear often, but to save her swear words for comedic effect.” Hilarious!

    Another coworker, in the same conversation, said she is careful not to call swear words “bad words” but “adult words.”

    Sound advice all around. :)

  138. Marney says...

    Since our now nine year old was maybe five, we have allowed him to swear at home, occasionally, if used in the proper context, and not at someone. It has taken the “naughty” factor out of it, which I think makes it seem less appealing overall.

    Personally, I love nothing more than a kid dropping the occasional f-bomb. So, this method has worked perfectly for our family.

    The one word we don’t allow is bitch. That’s just not cool, ever.

  139. While I don’t have kids the one thing I know is they hear everything….and then they repeat it. It’s funny to hear my friend’s kids sound exactly like them.

    One Thanksgiving after dinner the adults were enjoying some conversation while the children played in the other room. Suddenly we heard a, “God damn it!” from my nephew’s mouth. My parent’s and I looked at each other in surprise while my brother pointed accusedly at my sister-in-law. She laughed guiltily (and silently!) before talking to my nephew about his language. As the Aunt, it was pretty funny to watch the scene play out. :)

  140. Oh my goodness! I had a very similar experience with my daughter when she was 3. We were walking through our neighborhood, heading to preschool, and my little girl looked particularly adorable— tiny knapsack, pigtails, overalls, the whole nine yards. An older approached us, and gave me one of those “good job, mom!” glances of approval. Just as she smiled, my daughter loudly announced: “what the FUCK, mom. There is DOG SHIT all over this block!” OOPS.

  141. Lisa says...

    Two stories, both involving my daughter:

    Then aged 2.5, I had given my daughter my phone to hold while we drove to preschool. I heard her say something in the back seat, which I couldn’t quite here. “What did you say, honey?” Silence. A minute passes. Again, she says something which sounds like “duck”. I innocently push, “did you say duck?” “No, Mama, I said ‘fuck it'”.

    Now, aged 6.5, she fully understands that we don’t say the f-word. My husband, feeling a moment of frustration, lets it slip. “Dad, mom says ‘jerk” and you say ‘fuck.’ You should not say ‘fuck’ because it isn’t polite. You really need to stop saying ‘fuck’!”

    It’s like once she starts with it, she has to say it a minimum of 5 times.

  142. KF says...

    When I was in second grade, my friend got in really big trouble (so big, like grounded without Nintendo) for writing “Miss Walkadick” in her notebook. Our teacher’s name was “Miss Walkavich” and no one, including my friend, knew what the big deal was. Just a funny rhyme, right?

    My own kids? I’m pretty sure my second born’s first word was “sh*t” but I’d like to think he was trying to say something else, like “sit” or “seat”, but it probably was “sh*t”.

  143. Becca Lynn says...

    I started swearing this year! It makes me feel a little badass to say the f-word and s-word, but I do it sparingly because it feels classier that way ;)
    One time, before I started swearing, I was playing Cards Against Humanities with my friends and they all gave me cards just loaded with the F-word to try to make me say it! I didn’t :P but now I would, no problem. I guess I’ve changed in the past few years!

  144. Lilia says...

    I relate so well! My husband and I both swore a lot before our girls were born (and still do when they’re out of earshot). While we’ve tried to avoid swearing in front of them, I once shouted “goddammit!” when I discovered our cat had gotten loose and was nowhere to be found. For the next few days, my 2.5-year-old gleefully ran around the house shouting “goddammit!” While exasperating, I couldn’t blame her, and it was so funny/cute I had a hard time not laughing.

  145. When I was little my mother told me I could use those words after I had kids. I was like, yeah of course! That makes sense! I just accepted it, at least until around middle school (although I still didn’t really swear then. Once in Social Studies a kid got caught by the PRINCIPAL giving a teacher, who was a nun, the finger when her back was turned and I was utterly scandalized).

    I did swear as a baby though. Once when I was three the car stopped short and I said, “Move it asshole,” and my mom turned around like ???? I replied: “That’s what daddy says when the car goes like this”. Oops, dad.

    • Blythe says...

      Hahaha!

    • Tess says...

      Yes, we have one like this too. I am with my child’s father but she sees him often. I do curse alot and wish I could stop but it seems the best valve for when I am supremely annoyed. I have alternatives that I also use liberally at home and as a teacher, but nothing feels as gratifying and a really good g.d. bomb or full-fledged mother of them all, f- bomb.

      Anyway, so I was driving on a long drive when my daughter was 2 to some cousins of mine,. We were so close but so far away and some dingaling would not move out of the passing lane and was going far too slowly. I was trying to be a good mommy and show patience (ha!) … that just means my impatience was muted but not obscured. Then, out of no where my little sweetness says completely clearly and fully recognizing the situation, “We’re sitting behind a jackass.”

      I had tear in my eyes as I tried not to laugh. When I got a hold of myself I asked her where she’d heard that (as that is not one in my vast repertoire) and says, “that’s what my daddy says when people won’t move!”.

      Ha! We still laugh about that to this day. She is 10 and not swearing which is somehow a huge miracle.

      As a child when I was furious, I wen to my room and hid and then repeated mantra-like “weener, poopy, stinky-butt”. My own answer to swearing.

    • Tess says...

      NOT with her father, obviously!

  146. cgw says...

    Hahahaha!!! Awesome stories!
    When my daughter was little, about 4 yo I convinced my husband to start using the the alternate terms “F’ed up”, or “F’er!” versus the full version. It was about the same time she was learning to put on her own shoes and tie shoelaces. One day she was struggling to get her foot into a boot, not realizing it would be easier to unzip it further when we heard a very frustrated “F’er! Ugh! F’er, get in! Why won’t it get in?!” It was all we could do to bust out laughing.

    Now she’s 13 and funny enough will call my husband out when he says the F word, but not me. Maybe because I don’t use it as often? She’s known since about 8 that grown-ups might say certain words, but that it’s not appropriate for kids to. She wants to know at which age it would be all right. We’ve mildly struggled with what to tell her, as she’s on the spectrum and quite literal minded.

  147. Kathleen says...

    We sat down to dinner recently and my husband turned to me and said, “Thanks for making dinner.” My three year old son then said “Thanks for making dinner, Mama. <> I said that cause Dad did. <> That’s also why I say goddamn it” (I wish I could say we kept a straight face, but alas. So funny)

  148. Amy says...

    You know how in The Christmas Story they use the word “fudge” in real slow audio to fill in for the f-word? As a kid, I thought that saying fudge reaaaalllll slow was the f-word. I didn’t understand, but I knew enough to never, ever to say it out loud!

  149. alison says...

    My son was nine when he learned about the ‘f-word’ from his 7 year old sister! And that SO fits their personalities! The funniest though is that, with an education background, I often will say “Oh my head!” when things are driving me mad and was on quite a high horse when my husband admitted to dropping the f bomb in front of the kids so I asked them if they have ever heard me say the f-word. My daughter’s response was priceless. “Yea Mom, I have heard you. You said those f-wording kids!” Whoops!

  150. Lisa says...

    This happened yesterday with my almost four year old! I try not to swear, but sometimes slip. My husband definitely swears. So I was getting my son out of the car at the grocery store, after church no less, and he saw some dirt on the seat. “What the f *** is this?” he asked. We talked about it, and I think he got it — we don’t need to say that. Then at the dinner table, he was trying to do something and I heard him say, “Damn!” — Clearly we have a ways to go with cleaning up our language. We did talk about how there are so many words that are so much more interesting to use.