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Max Diaries: Wash Mommy’s Mouth Out

Christina Cox

by Christina Cox, new mom blogger

I swore I would never do it. But, then I did it. In my defense, I really don’t do it that often. But still, I did it. I cussed. I cussed right in front of my son. And, I’m embarrassed to say that it was the worst of the cuss words. I said it quietly, almost in a whisper, more because I was so angry that I wanted to scream and instead I let it out in one of those intense whispers. I can’t even remember why I was so angry, but now I’m paying the price.
Every so often I hear my 22-month old Max say it, exactly like I said it. Sometimes when he drops his toy car or even when he’s just charging around his room playing, he says it. And, he says it in that same intense whisper. And, when he does, I cringe with shame and embarrassment. They hear everything, even when you don’t think they do.
At first I pretended not to hear him and would say very innocently, “Oh, did you say truck? Are you looking for your truck? Let’s go find your truck.” That was not successful. He kept saying the foul word every few days, in the same manner I did, in that intense little whisper. So, I knew I had to change tactics. A while back, Max had been saying “stupid,” I’m afraid to say that it was another worthless word that I let slip out. So, all of us, who are around Max started making up new words for the word “stupid.” When he would say it, we’d say, oh let’s say “SUPER” or “AWESOME” instead of that word. It actually worked and he really doesn’t say stupid anymore, only “super” and “awesome” and with such enthusiasm that it makes me smile.
So, the next time he said the dreaded cuss word, I told him that we shouldn’t say that word and gave it a replacement. I said, “Hey buddy, let’s say FANTASTIC instead.” He looked at me funny, like he wasn’t buying it. But we repeated the exercise the next few times he said it and I really thought it was starting to work.
The other day, we sat down for dinner and Max was eating. I had a big spoon filled with green vegetables and went to feed it to him, but he yelled “self” so I let him grab the spoon so he could feed himself. He took the plastic spoon, bent it as far back as he could and let it go. The green veggies flung up onto the ceiling. I looked up and said without thinking, “OH, (yet another expletive).” Right after, we looked at each other and I sat there holding my breath, thinking what a foul-mouthed mother I am. My eyes must have been wide, because he opened his eyes wide and in an exasperated gasp, he repeated exactly what I said, exactly how I said it. Oh no, I did it again.
I decided right then, that I needed to march myself upstairs and wash my mouth out with soap. Perhaps give myself a spanking. Or, maybe, I should take an old approach to self-improvement and write out 100 times longhand, “ I shall not cuss, I shall not swear ever again for as long as I live.” I know we all make mistakes as parents, but this is such an easy one to fix through a little self-control. I know it is impossible, but I try to be perfect for my son. But, I realize now that I’m not the perfect one at all in this mother-son relationship. In the grand scheme of things, I’m probably not even the true teacher. If I didn’t have a child, I would have never given swearing a second thought and here I am agonizing over my indiscretions with my near-2 year old. He’s making me a better person in so many ways. Curbing my cussing is just one small example. Could it be true? Has Max become my little life teacher? Do our kids end up teaching US lessons in life? I think yes, yes, yes.

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