by Melanie Nicholas
Twenty three years or so ago, my bestie, Baby Spice, had a baby. I loved that baby from the minute she was born, this perfect little miniature version of Baby Spice, and I dubbed her the Squirt. Whatever she wanted, I was happy to do. When the Squirt was about 31/2 or so, I got the chance to babysit her one evening. We played and ate junk food and read books for a while. When she asked me to paint her nails, I happily agreed.
When Baby Spice arrived for pick-up, I was feeling pretty accomplished! The Squirt looked so cute, she was happy and fed, and nothing had been broken on my watch! Baby Spice was less than impressed.
“Melanie! Her nails are black. She is 3. Three! And she has preschool tomorrow, at a Baptist school! I will never be able to get this off of her … .” You can imagine how the rest of the conversation went. I maintain to this very day that her nails were midnight blue with sparkles, not black. To no avail. Apparently lack of judgment is color blind.
Now, in my defense, I had never been around children before, and I had absolutely no experience with what was appropriate. Y’all know I have no filter and a potty mouth, so Baby Spice spent a lot of time covering the Squirt’s ears and saying things like, “Melanie! Little pitchers have big ears!”
And I would respond by asking, “What the (bleep) does that mean?”
Now that I am a parent, with the ability to Google, I have finally discovered the meaning. The expression means that adults have to be careful about what they say around children. The saying, which has been around since the 1500’s, refers to the large ear-shaped handles that are sometimes attached to small vessels. In other words, sometimes you are going to regret teaching your children to talk. They pour forth what you fill them with.
I know different parents have different philosophies about using profanity in front of their children. I have some friends that just let it all come out. I have other friends, like Baby Spice, that are extremely careful in front of children. The Hubs does not curse at all. So if a swear word slips out, you know something has happened that is excruciatingly painful. Me, I try to balance on the tightrope of cussing in front of other adults and keeping it clean in front of the kids.
But there is a reason I am not an acrobat.
We were headed to Abilene to see my mom last weekend when we stopped at a fast food restaurant for something to drink and a potty break. Because as all parents know, you cannot even make it an hour before someone needs to stop.
Bodacious was looking panicked, trying to get out of her seatbelt. “Hurry up, Mommy! I need to take a great big crap.”
I’m sorry. What was that? When did she turn into a 12-year-old boy? The Hubs has whipped his eyes over to me from the driver’s seat. “Nice, Melanie, really nice.”
But I swear, I did not teach her that word.
And I swear, I did not mean to do this — but I laughed. And then I laughed some more. Because it was funny in an awful, this is not my life, kind of way. First, I hate public restrooms, and there is nothing worse than trying to clean one up enough for your child to use, and then clean them and yourself up, after. They stink and they’re dirty, and I would rather my children go to the bathroom outside. But that’s frowned upon, so, you know … in we went. Second, the look on her little face, all blue eyes and freckles and perfect baby teeth, serious and emphatic, cussing like a middle-schooler.
As other parents can tell you, laughing is generally frowned upon for a behavior you do not wish to see repeated. All I can imagine her doing now is crapping it up at church and school. Or worse, in front of my mother. She will kill me.
The Hubs is trying to reel us all back in, explaining to her that it is not really appropriate for a little girl to use that word. By now I have recorded it and posted it online for everyone else to see as well.
Within minutes, I get a Facebook message from another mom.
“Thanks for the video. I watched it with my 2-year-old, and now she is sing-songing crap all over the house. Maybe you could teach your daughter a long list of expletives so we could just get that over with, too.”
Oops. Sorry! Should have posted a warning.
Little Son, so like his straight-arrow father, is taking this all in. All zen-like over his French fries.
“Well, Mom, at least she’s not saying the s-word.”
Bodacious is intrigued.
“What’s the s-word?” she asks.
“Well, if you listen long enough,” he explains, “I’m sure Mom will say it.”