Here's something you don't want to hear from another mother: "Hey, your daughter taught my son how to say the F-word."
Yep. There it is. A proud parenting moment indeed.
"Did you know you're not supposed to say the word 'duck' with an 'F'?" says my seven-year-old daughter chattily to her pal in the backseat of my friend's car.
"Duckf?" asks her friend innocently. Obviously his mother does not drop f-bombs, unlike, say, ME.
"Duckf? No, duck with an F at the start," my daughter helpfully clarifies.
"Oh, do you mean (insert F-bomb here)?" he says.
"Yeah, (insert F-bomb here)," she replies.
Well, at least I can take solace in the fact that my daughter told him not to say it, right?
I spent most of my career working in less-than-polite newsrooms where reporters and editors could easily challenge Wolf of Wall Street's impressive "three F-bombs per minute" record.
So, after I had kids, going cold turkey in the swearing department was a bit of a challenge. For the most part, I have succeeded. I think my kids have heard me drop the F-bomb about seven times in their lives. That's not bad, right? That's only once per year for my youngest.
But they remember every single one.
"Mom, remember that time that you got lost in Saint John and ended up crossing the Harbour Bridge twice when you didn't want to and you said the 'F' word twice and screamed 'Sometimes, I hate this city!'?" said my 10-year-old the other day.
That happened about a year ago but the kid's memory is like a steel trap. The older my kids get, the more careful The Hubster and I have to be about what we say or do because they notice everything.
"I smell chocolate," says my oldest as she came into the kitchen just moments after I stuffed my mouth with a handful of chocolate chips from the pantry. "What's in your mouth?"
"Nothing," I mumble with my lips closed tight, a small speck of chocolate on my bottom lip.
"Mom! How come you can eat chocolate before supper and we can't?!"
I know kids learn their most important lessons by simply watching their parents, so of course I try to set a good example. I'm a law-abiding citizen. I'm kind to others. I'm honest. I try to help others in need. I love dogs. I don't smoke. I don't drink (much).
I also know, though, that I'm not going to act perfectly all the time and it's OK for them to see that too sometimes. I had a little chat with my girls about swearing. I told them that adults sometimes swear when they are frustrated, but generally those words are considered rude so they aren't allowed to say them.
"And don't teach the word that starts with 'F' to any of your other friends," I told my youngest.
"How about this, then?" she replied, putting her fingers in the sides of her mouth and pulling it open wide. "Get the puck off the ice!"
That one did not come from me. Honestly.
Li'l Girl Talk
"What would I call the quote at the end? 'Old Mommy Talk'?" says my 10-year-old when I asked her if she wanted to write this column.
Follow Kathy Kaufield on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kaufield