Mum’s the word!

I was driving home a few weeks ago, with my 8 year old son in the back seat, busy playing a game in my phone. He has no interest whatsoever in looking out of the window, at the urban madness all around.

At his age, I used to be familiar with most of the frequent routes we took in and around the place we lived. Now, if I ask him to name the place we’re passing by, all I get is a wild guess in reply.

Anyway, this post is not about my son’s lack of geographical knowledge. But more about the conversation we had in the car.

As I was saying, we were driving around & after a bit my son asked me, “Amma.. what does f**k mean?”

I almost screeched the car to a stop with shock.

“What?” I sputtered.

He was as cool as ever. “You know? the F word?” He replied.

Totally caught unawares, I struggled for a perfect way to handle it. But I couldn’t. So I just blabbered on, albeit nervously.

“It is a very, very bad word”. I informed him. “And children should never, ever use it. If you do, ghosts will appear out of nowhere. When I was a kid, a boy I knew used it and he got worms growing in his mouth”.

I paused for effect.

“Ok Amma, I’ll never use it, but can you please tell me the meaning?” he persisted.

“No, I will not”

“Why not?”

“Because you’re too young to use that word”

Silence for a bit. He seemed to be mulling over what I’d said.

“Just so you know, ghosts do not exist.” he announced a little later. “And people cannot get worms in their mouths by talking. I think you’re a liar Amma. And very mean too.”

I was still struggling to say something mature and insightful when he dismissed me by going back to his game.

God! I had expected this question perhaps when he’s ten or older. How do I tackle this?

Later that day, when he bugged me for the meaning again, I sternly told him using such words only showed his upbringing and people would blame his mother for not teaching the right values. (Nothing works like the good old emotional blackmail!)

He seemed to buy it & did not pursue it any further, but still made me miserable by bringing up some vague facts about the F word, especially when we had company.

Just when I thought he’s gotten over that fixation, he came over to me one evening and announced, “Amma! the S word is not a bad word. It only means one is a boy or a girl.”

“Oh.. what S word?” I asked.

“You know? the S word? Sucksy?”

“Ok” I nodded wisely but was bubbling with mirth inside.

Here is a kid who has grown up solely on Cartoon Network & POGO.

I have never taken him to a movie with me till he was about 6 unless it is a kids’ movie. I’ve never watched any of my favourite shows with him.

He goes to a school where there are hardly 25 kids with him and most of them are raised similarly. From where does he get exposure to bad words, I wonder.

I remember being horrified long ago ,when two five year olds in the family were caught discussing which one is better – love marriage or arranged marriage. The elders were totally blamed for watching Sun TV in front of them and exposing small kids to such rubbish.

Back then I’d sworn I’ll never do that to my kid. But these things just creep in unawares I guess.

Once my son walked in on me watching Two and a half men. And just that time the jokes were all centered around Alan’s bathroom habits and he burst out laughing & settled down to watch it.

I paused the program.

“Why??” he whined.

“I told you, these are not meant for you. Please go back to whatever you were doing.”

“How come you get to watch cool stuff?”

“Fine. I don’t now” I switched off the TV.

“I hate being a kid! I never get to watch cool things, do anything nice. My life is not fun, Amma!”

By now I knew enough not to argue about how uncool my own life was when I was his age, so I maintained a dignified silence while he raved and ranted.

I gently suggested a board game & all was forgiven.

When I shared this with a friend with much older kids, she laughed. “This is nothing,” she said. “Wait till he gets a bit older.”

Did you know there’s this stage of pre-teens called Tweens?

Thanks to all the exposure,  children are losing their innocence too soon. They learn too much, too fast, too soon.

I guess it’s up to us parents & teachers to take it in our stride and learn to nudge them towards the right path as we go along.

On the brighter side, I can always depend upon my son to download a much-needed app in my phone!

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