Great Moments in Parenting: Baby’s first swear

Dudes, as this post’s title indicates, I will be talking about swears. If swears offend your delicate sensibilities, please go clutch your pearls far away from this post. And, probably, from me. I like swears. A lot. 

Callum, circa 18 months.

It’s 2008. My kid is like 18 months old or so. We’re heading out to go to an ECFE class. We did a million of those classes. I wasn’t super into sitting around with other moms talking about the minutiae of parenting, but I was super into getting out of the house. It gave me a reason to change out of pajamas. Put on some make-up. It gave me a chance to talk to other humans. I will never regret choosing to stay at home most of C’s childhood, but it was isolating as fuck.

Speaking of “fuck”….


So we’re heading to ECFE class. I’m leaving the house in standard toddler packmule mode: diaper bag, purse, whatever toys C needs one of us to be clutching at the moment (actually, this was during the Gerber toddler spoons as teething toys phase), travel coffee mug, winter gear, C on my hip. We go out to the car and I balance everything precariously to open the passenger side seat to dump most of the junk so I can then wrangle C into his car seat in back. And the car door is locked.

I’m holding what feels like the entire contents of our house and a wriggling toddler who had probably just thrown a tantrum over having to leave the house and I can’t open the damn door.

“Oh my fucking god,” I grumble, I think under my breath. Matthew last drove this car and still had the leftover Boston habit of always locking the car doors when he got out of the car. Even though our car was parked in the garage attached to our house. So I put half the crap down and fish around for my car keys and get everything in the front seat. I put C into his seat and go to harness him in. He grins at me and sort of sighs out, “Oh, fuckin.”

Oh. Oh, no.

“Oh, muffin?” I say. “Oh, bucket.” Uh… what else sounds sort of like “fuckin” but not close enough to still sound like it? NOTHING.

“Oh, fuckin!” he says, gleeful now. Yes. This is a satisfying thing to say, he seems to understand. And, little dude, I totally agree. But I thought we’d maybe make it a few more years till you’d be busting out the swears. (Side note: I was probably this same age when I would stand in my playpen and holler out “Jeez Christ!” thanks to all the times I heard my dad get pissed at the Atari games he played and snap, “Jesus Christ!” Apples and trees and whatnot, right?)

So we make it through class without him saying this and I think maybe we’re good. But, later that day, it’s back. “Oh, fuckin,” he says, wandering through the house. “Oh, fuckin,” he says, really just to himself, as he plays. “Oh, fuckin,” he says, sweetly, to my mother when she next sees him.

I try to not react. Reacting will just make him do it more. As Matthew says of us on our current street, we’re kind of the Munsters of the street, and we felt that way on our old street too. I didn’t also need to add my toddler teaching all the other toddlers their first swear. But my mom and Matthew bust up laughing every time he does it, no matter how hard they try to resist. C’s teeny and sweet little voice will come out of nowhere. “Oh, fuckin.” I mean, it is hilarious. It just is. But look. I already have the kid who sat at ECFE classes as a newly semi-verbal wee one and asked his teachers politely, “More coffee?” holding out his little cup. He wanted water. But he learned the word coffee first. Because MacGregors.

You know, MacGregors. The family who lets their toddler drink coffee and swear.

I don’t remember a whole lot of C’s first milestones. I was tired. Who has the brain capacity for that stuff? I know he started to talk at 10 months. He started to put together small sentences before he could even walk (16 months). Beyond that, it’s a blur. First word? Who knows. But baby’s first swear word? That one is seared into my brain, every detail. It makes for a great story. And I often find myself, exasperated over some detail of life, sighing to myself and saying, in that same offhand tone C used, “Oh, fuckin.”

He’s right—it’s pretty satisfying.