Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Setting the Best Example

I have been waxing poetic lately about parental responsibility, or the lack thereof. I am a firm believer that parents have to set the best example for their kids. Keep in mind that I have been known to cuss like the proverbial sailor. I don't usually do it in front of the kids. In fact I have told them repeatedly that cursing is a sign of ignorance. People who can't think of anything more intelligent to say resort to cuss words. Unfortunately, though, I have had to dig myself out of a few sticky situations.

#1 Son and I were on the way to my parents' house for a visit when he was about a year old. We were on a two-lane road, traveling the speed limit, when an older lady decided she needed to turn left. She, of course, waited as we approached and then decided to make the turn directly in front of us. To avoid the certain accident that was coming, I had to lock up the brakes. Everything in the car violently slid forward. Luckily, #1 was strapped safely in his car seat and I was wearing my seatbelt. The incident scared me and in the heat of the moment, as I stomped on the brakes I yelled the infamous F-word. Uh oh. Of course #1 thought that was a cool new word. He proceeded to say it over and over..."F&%$, F&%$, F%&$." I could only imagine how this was going to go over with my parents. So, I got creative. I started answering him with, "Yes, that’s a big TRUCK! Look at the big TRUCK." The first couple of times he looked at me like I was nuts (no trucks around), but eventually my diversionary tactic worked. He started gleefully chanting "Truck, Truck!" Schew...disaster avoided!

From that incident I learned that if you panic, it only encourages the kid to repeat the word. Over and over. Kids are going to hear objectionable language no matter how hard you try to shelter them from it. It is on the television, they hear it from their friends and at school. This lesson was reinforced a few years later when the Little One was almost two. She heard the word "sex" on an afternoon newscast (grrr) and said it out loud. My response of a sharp intake of breath elicited an excited response from her. My beautiful innocent little daughter then spent the better part of the week marching around and chanting "Sex, Sex, Sex." She was very proud of herself. You should have seen the looks I got in the grocery store.

The kids are older now. They've heard all the words. They've probably even said most of them, though not in front of me. I'm not naive. Last night we found ourselves driving home during rush hour traffic. I hate traffic. As you enter the highway, the ramp drops you into a commuter lane that is open in the morning. It was closed last night so I had to merge into the left lane. I hit my signal, looked over my shoulder and began to merge, as I was clear by at least 4 or 5 car lengths. It was then that this BMW crossed three lanes of traffic, traveling about 70 miles an hour, right into my lane. The driver hit her horn, and as I swerved back into the commuter lane she looked back and flew me the bird. She then swerved back to the left through two more lanes of traffic as she sped off. The conversation went like this:

LO: Mom! Did you see that?
Me: Yes, she's going to cause an accident.
LO: No, I mean she flipped you the bird! You should have flipped her back.
#1 Son: She DID! You didn't see it?
LO: Oh COOL! Way to go Mom!

Damn. I thought I was being stealthy. So much for a setting an example.


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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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