Addie: Mom, what does “fucking” mean?
[Side note: there is literally nothing funnier than hearing a five-year-old say the word “fucking.” I know it’s wrong, and that I should have gasped here in horror, but honestly, I just sort of snorted inwardly and then attempted to compose myself enough to come up with some sort of dignified explanation as to what the word “fucking” means. I had so many questions. Not even normal questions, like “where did you learn the word “fucking”? My questions were more along the lines of– in what context was the word “fucking” being used?]
Me: Oh, honey, you’re not really supposed to say that word. Don’t ever say that word to your teacher, or any of your friends, okay?
Addie: [Now intrigued. The introduction of a forbidden word means A WORD THAT WILL NOW BECOME A PERMANENT PART OF HER VERNACULAR IF I DON’T HANDLE THIS CORRECTLY.] But what does it mean?
Me: It could mean—I don’t know, a lot of different things.
Addie: [Conspiratorially] Today, W said he was tired of playing with this fucking toy.
Me: [Secretly extremely relieved that she learned it from a random boy at school, and not from carefully deciphering everything I mutter under my breath while I’m driving] Well, like I said, honey, that’s a naughty word, we shouldn’t say that. But when he said that, he was using it like another word for “stupid.”
Addie: [Gasps. Stupid is the baddest word we have in our house. She refers to it as the S word, which really confuses me, because she’ll say stuff like “Today at school, L called E the S word”, and I’m like, dang, he just straight up called her shit? Because that’s cold.] Is fucking worse than the S word?
Me: It absolutely is. It’s a very naughty word, probably the worst one. So don’t say it, okay?
[I leave the room, satisfied that I have done a halfway-decent job of parenting. I hear a thud, then some rustling, and then Addie—“Fucking S word remote!” I smile sadly, knowing that even though I did all I could to prevent it, she has taken her first steps down the profane but colorful road to swearytown.]