Every parent has cute little stories about words their children couldn’t quite get the hang of. At times, it’s an adorable mispronunciation. Other times it’s the wrong word inserted. There are even times kids make up their own hybrid words. Many of these are born out of developing speech skills. If you, however, fear that your children will be in decades of speech therapy, just toss out some choice R-rated words and watch those lisps and word reversals fly right out the window. F’s are apparently particularly easy for little mouths running on adrenaline. The bright spot is your child can learn to speak words clearly, and use them in proper contexts. It displays language comprehension skills too. For what these interventions cost a school district, I can NOT believe the principal does not embrace this speech therapy breakthrough. Just a little.
For five years now, my sons have gone to a school with the word “sacred” in the name. From his first year of preschool through second grade, my younger one could not help but say “secret heart.” Each Fall he would go “pickin punkins;” and I wouldn’t even know how to type his version of “popcorn.” Of course, when at age six he was scolded by his normally fun loving uncle, suddenly, my cherubic toe-head could muster F’s and K’s with crystal clarity. When my brother first heard it, he thought he misheard it. It was at the third one that he said he was certain it was the F bomb when he noticed it was in the “proper context.” You can tell he didn’t have kids to take three times to accept the scene. And, Mike, what exactly is the “proper context” for one’s six year old nephew to let the F’s drop?
My older son has had some challenges with R’s and L’s from the get go. The “Sh” combo was particularly tricky. If only he’d nail it we’d hope repeatedly. Until the day he did nailed – loudly - followed by “it” at his soccer game. Pesky S’s were tackled by practicing them in conjunction with “-uck” or “pi—.” The R issue skillfully overcome at 10, in a perfectly executed, maternally slanted, “mother-f-----r.” Special needs parents will understand my bittersweet combo of feelings of horror, and yet accomplishment that he didn’t Elmer-Fudd the first R. One afternoon listening to me desperately search for car keys with zero time left to get to my office, and suddenly he could cough out “supercalifragilisticexpealidoshis,” the director’s cut.
There are times I walk through my home convinced I’m having some out of body experience in which I’m talking but no one can hear me. It took one, maybe ten, rather uncomfortable phone calls from the school searching for some silver lining in the profanity-laced cloud. For starters, there was relief my kids could pass a hearing test. If you have real concern over your child’s hearing and articulation, hold off on the audiologist and the speech therapist. Stroll around your home like you’re reading “Goodfellas” dialogue, then send little Johnnie scurrying in to school. It’s an absolutely flawless developmental test. I can’t understand why more pediatricians don’t try this instead of that light in the ear thing.
Given that I’m the one with the more severe drunken-sailor mouth, I can’t really conveniently blame anyone else for their vocabulary. Over time, my husband has begun adopting my lingo with greater frequency, so I do try to roll him under the bus when possible. I try to stymie the mouth, yielding a kind of Yosemite Sam sound. But the damage is done. The f’ing cat is out of the f’ing bag as it were. I know this for sure because as fate would have it, this afternoon’s school phone call indicated that some, how shall I say, “inappropriate” words were used in the school library today. But, wait a second and look at the context. Wouldn’t you be pretty f’ing pi—ed if YOUR copy of FreckleJuice was just swiped from the "god-damn" shelf? Just a little?