Betty Duffy

Monday, February 9, 2009

As the Snow Goes, So Goes my Brain

And since the snow is melting, I find I need to take a break from deep, cold and heavy thoughts. So to lighten the mood a little bit, some bodily humor:

My son came home from school today and said he knew what the S word, the B word and the F word were. This was no surprise. For the past seven years, those dirty words they were not allowed to say were "stupid," "butt," and "fart."

Well, he's graduated to the big guns, and it's all because of his bad-influence-friend, Garret G.

Last Wednesday, at the school Mass, Garret G. came running up to us from the back of the Sanctuary during the sign of peace, gave my son a high five, and said, "Duffy!" (he pronounced it DUFF-ay). I knew this was coming. My husband had a plethora of nicknames in high school, all perverse derivatives of the name Duffy, like Muffy. But it's funny to hear my seven-year-old called by his last name in such a chummy way because he's a squirt. He's skinny, kind of serious, and sort of a follower, God bless him (breaks my heart to see him "following" his schoolfriends, because he is by no means a follower at home).

Garret G. went down the pew slapping the hands of each of my kids, as though he were doing the congratulatory handslap after a little league game. When he arrived at my two year old he said, "Hey, Duffy, remember when your little brother slobbered on me in 2006?"

"Yeah. Oh, yeah. He did!" said my son like a little snouzer hopping alongside his bulldog friend. And it's true, my two-year-old slobbered on Garret G. in 2006 when I brought him into my oldest son's kindergarten classroom for story hour. That's Garret G. for you.

So when my son came home and said, "What does the word "fitch" mean?"

I said, "Uh, fitch? Hmm...I have no idea."

"Well, maybe it wasn't fitch," he said. "It's an f word."

"Who told you this?"

"Garret. Maybe it's the b-word."

Explaining the referred to B-word was certainly preferable to the hinted at F-word. "Bitch, is a name for a female dog. But you really shouldn't use that word," I said. "There's no conversation you could have, at this point, in which you would need to use that word."

"But there's another word. An F-word. F-U..."

"OK. It's a very bad word. Do not say that word. Ever."

"What happens when kids say that word?"

"They get their mouths washed out with soap. And I can't guarantee that the police won't come pick you up and take you to jail. Your friends' mothers won't let you play with them. Just don't use that word."

"But what's it mean?"

"'s a bad word for how babies are made." Obviously this was not the right response, but I was caught in a split second decision whether or not to keep my child in the dark, or let him have understanding so he could use good judgement in the words he chooses.

"You mean God?"



The dust was coming from Ash Wednesday services, "You are dust and unto dust you shall return." But I don't want him thinking that babies are made out of dust at this age, nor that the F-word is another name for God. What a bind. I hate this question. I absolutely hate it. I know that I knew what sex was when I was his age, but he's my oldest, and it just feels like it would be all downhill from here.

I almost had to have a "Where do Babies Come From?" talk with the boys last summer. They were in the back seat of the van kicking each other in the privates and laughing. I said, "Don't do that if you ever want to be a Daddy someday." Another dumb thing to say, and yet something they need to know.

"Why? Why not kick balls if you want to be a Daddy?" And they got the term "balls" from Garret G. too, but I never corrected them because I didn't want to say, "Actually, it's called a scrotum."

"Because Daddies keep something special in there that helps them to make a baby."

"How do Daddies make a baby? Do they poop something out or do they grow it in their buttocks?"--Yes, the emphasis was on the second syllable, and I once again blame Garret G.

"No, Daddies don't grow babies, only Mommies do. But Daddies help."

"This is confusing. How can something in Daddy's balls help a Mom make a baby?"

"Well, you know how a chicken lays an egg, and the rooster has to fertilize it?" They know this from hanging out at my Mom and Dad's farm. "Well, Mommies have tiny eggs and Daddies have to fertilize them."

"So they both poop at the same time..."

"This has nothing to do with poop. Just don't kick each other in the balls!"

And that's where it ended. They weren't ready to understand. And wouldn't you know, I'm still not ready for them to understand.

"God makes babies, but mommies and daddies have to help. They have to do something for God to decide to give them a baby, and the F-word is a bad name for the good thing mommies and daddies do."

"But what do they do?"

Darn it, Garret G.

"They love each other. A lot."

And there I left it. The F-word is a bad word for love. How sad.


Betty Duffy said...

Go ahead and say it, somebody. This is why you're glad you're home schooling.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, Dan here. I am thinking that you should watch George Carlin's the seven dirtiest words: has been getting some press since his death. He goes right at this issue raised by N - what happens to kids when they say it? Your description of the influential friend is hilarious. I hate to laugh thinking of your cringe, but "DUFF-ay" is pretty funny. Also, the winning high fives down the pew. So now that we have one back in a "real" school, we'll see if he becomes more enlightened than the others. We tread around the where do babies come from issue tonight while discussing the bull at the farm and hitting on terms like "Stud fee." Our j has made it clear that he knows what is going on - I think that I will push him on this one until the embarrassment is unbearable for him. Appreciating the levity.

megan said...

This was your funniest post ever! I laughed so hard the baby almost came out.

Kate said...

I think your go-to response in these situations should be "Less is more." This is more a reminder for you (and a stalling tactic, I guess) than for their information.

Another helpful line is my mom's old standby "Well, since you asked...." Be sure to draw 'asked' out into at least three tones. Also be sure really to pronounce that ellipsis, since that's the part that lets them know they're about to have a long and detailed embarrassing discussion with you, including much scientific body terminology and awkward hand gesturing. That ellipsis is what gets them to retract the question for a couple years, giving you time to formulate an answer that won't have them using awkward 'synonyms' next time they're talking to their great-grandmother or something.

Jay said...

Nice post, Betty! Keep 'em coming.

We aren't home-schooling, but even in our private Catholic school there's a Garret G. in the second-grade class, who learns lots of cool words from his older cousins.

We've managed to avoid a lot of those discussions by focusing on "respect" -- talking and especially laughing about body parts doesn't show the respect for them that God intended when He made them.

And we use "crotch" instead of balls or privates. And anyone who punches someone else in the crotch gets to sit for 20 or 30 minutes. (yes, it's happened. my older sons are 8 and 6....)

Anyway, thanks for your post. I enjoyed the laugh.

Betty Duffy said...

I should have posted this issue a year ago. I could have used all your good ideas and prepared for these questions rather than putting my foot in mouth when I got caught off guard. Especially like the "since you A-a-asked..." I could give them a smarmy shoulder squeeze and ensure they direct all future questions of such a nature to Garret G.

mrsdarwin said...

This is absolutely hysterical. I'm very sorry to say that I cracked up at the "Duff-AY".

Patterson's Progeny said...

Oh my goodness, this post is hilarious! I also laughed outloud reading your yoga post. I also have 5 kids, and number six on the way and have the exact same experience of trying to do any kind of fitness video with kids in the house. I found your blog through Conversion Diary and will be adding it to my reading list!