I’m a baby-head. And my ideas are poopy-headed. So says (or yells) my 5-year-old son, anyway.
It’s hard to keep a straight face when he’s having a tantrum and throwing out this type of insult, even though on the inside my heart is breaking a little because he’s so obviously frustrated and doesn’t know how to cope.
I blame myself. For the ridiculous vocabulary, I mean, not the tantrums themselves. (I’m pretty sure those come from my husband’s gene pool.) I have selfishly refused to use any REAL profanity in front of him (and, oh, how I’ve wanted to sometimes!) so he obviously lacks the proper terminology to truly express his anger. Heck, we’ve been referring to his posterior as his “bottom” or “booty” forever; the other day after school he had to ask me what a “butt” was. I told him, and now it’s his new favorite word. (“Mommy, check out my booty-butt!!!” “Kiddo, pull up your pants, right now!)
I don’t know why I have this hang-up about my child using certain words. I guess there’s a part of me that wants to preserve his baby-ness for as long as I can, even as he grows into a school-age boy. So in our house, it’s bottom instead of butt, toots instead of farts, and gosh-darn-it instead of…well, just about anything else you could say when you drop a book on your toe or spill a glass of milk. (Ironically, my husband and I, a physician and a nurse, have always used the proper anatomical terms for his private parts; while this ensures he’ll never need to learn the “real” word for them later, it has made for some embarrassing moments in public. Imagine a 3-year-old explaining at full volume the differences between the men and women on the magazine covers while we’re waiting in the grocery checkout line!)
So for now, angry outbursts in our house are going to be accompanied by some creative and sometimes pretty hilarious insults. My husband and I will try to hide our smiles while we show respect for his feelings, set limits on his behavior, help him learn coping strategies, and otherwise do all the “good parent” things we’re supposed to be doing. And we’ll wait until later, after he’s in bed, to laugh hysterically about his word choices; after all, that may turn out to be the one bright spot in an otherwise very trying day as parents.