Aspen Princess: Word choice isn’t always that ducky with kids |

Aspen Princess: Word choice isn’t always that ducky with kids

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

Question: What do you do when your 3-year-old runs around in public dropping the f-bomb?

We knew this day was coming. Living without children for more than half your life, you let the bad language fly. It’s part of our vernacular, a way to put a little more emphasis on something. As in, “Man, the snow in G6 was f—ing sweet!” or “No f—ing way, dude!” The literal meaning has been all but completely lost, and in many ways, it’s not even a bad word. It’s more of an expression of excitement, which, I guess makes sense in the literal interpretation. In the context of our beloved Colorado mountain-town lifestyle, it’s not an insult, at least not in the passive verb application. It’s more of a euphemism than anything, and in my opinion, relatively harmless.

It doesn’t help that I grew up in a household where my parents swore with reckless abandon. Once my Dad even went so far as to say, “God dammit, stop f—king swearing!” That was his idea of disciplining us for our bad language.

Now that he’s in his late 70s and uses old age to get away with everything from peeing on the side of the road (only during his road bike rides) and turning the volume up everything so high that the walls shake to throwing the f-bomb, not between phrases but between syllables, like the dirty old man version of pig Latin.

My mom isn’t nearly as bad, though she does have her moments. When she’s frustrated with my dad, she tends to call him “f-face” but it’s in an affectionate way, if that makes any sense. When my brother was little, he was always getting into everything and was a very noisy child. He’d make noise for hours at a time until finally, we’d all just lose it.

“God dammit, Daniel!” my mom would say. She got to saying that so much that eventually she just started calling him “Dammit” instead of Daniel. I know that sounds bad, but I promise it wasn’t because he was still plenty spoiled. We all laugh about it now, even Daniel. It’s one of those family stories that gets told over and over again, and probably exaggerated just a little.

It doesn’t take long to realize your child picks up on everything you say and will eventually say it back to you, especially at this age, when their language is growing exponentially. You might not even realize your habit of repeating certain phrases until you hear your child say it back to you.

One day I was getting frustrated trying to get Levi’s shoes on and he says, “Stop freaking out, Mom. You’re totally freaking out.” That’s something Ryan says to me a lot, and he has taken to calling me “Mom” which gets really confusing when his own mother is visiting like she is now.

There’s been a few other funny instances, too, like when he looked at me out of the blue and said, “I can’t get this song out of my head. It’s driving me crazy!” Whoever designs those kids toys that play inane music that seeps into your brain and is burned onto your psyche for all eternity should be punished — especially for toys that play Christmas songs. “Jingle Bells” all year round? Really? That explains where that little catchphrase might have come from.

Still, we can’t for the life of us figure out where he learned, “Lose your f—ing face!”

He started saying it maybe two weeks ago and it has quickly become his favorite game. He just loves to holler this at the top of his lungs whenever we are out in public, especially at places where a lot of people can hear him. He yells it in line at the grocery store, in the library, and in line at the post office where it is often painfully quiet.

We have tried everything, from totally ignoring him to trying to pretend he’s getting it wrong by responding, “Lose your ducky face!” but nothing seems to be working.

We have asked him, “What does that mean?” and “Where did you learn that?” and “Who says that to you?” But he seems to understand that part of the fun of this new game is to withhold information. It’s all part of the power play. This is a child with such a mischievous streak and rebellious nature that often, the only way I can get him to do something is by telling him not to do it.

“Don’t you dare put your shoes on!” I’ll goad him in the mornings when faced with the insurmountable task of trying to get him dressed and out the door. “Whatever you do, do not put on your coat!”

At least for now, the whole reverse psychology thing is working — except for in the case of the f-bombs. I can’t exactly play that game in this context. I wouldn’t even know how to. “Don’t you dare stop saying “lose your f—ing face,” doesn’t seem to work.

I know he has no idea what this word means and I’m not about to explain it to him. If I tell him “that’s a really bad word,” or “don’t ever say that word” it will only make him want to do it more, as he loves nothing more than to get a reaction. So far, the tactic of ignoring him doesn’t really seem to be working, nor does trying to trick him into thinking he’s confusing it with the word “ducky.”

If there’s one thing we do know, it’s this: Karma is a bitch. Oops! Er, I mean, a not nice person.

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