I do not curse. Mostly. Almost never. I have slipped up only a handful of times since my oldest child was born four and a half years ago. I know my kids are going to be exposed to that type of language, but it is not going to be through me or through the media to which I expose them. It is not going to be a part of their everyday vocabularies.
Knowing that is how I feel about it, you can imagine my dismay when I heard my two-year-old clearly say, "Fuck," a couple weeks ago. I asked her what she said, just to be sure I heard her properly. I had. Then my four-year-old piped up with it. I asked them where they learned that word, and the four-year-old told me that a new kid named Sterling, in her preschool class, said it to her. I sternly told them that "the F word" is a "very, very naughty" word that they are to "never, never" say again. A little too sternly, actually. I made the four-year-old cry.
The next day, I mentioned it to the four-year-old's teacher and she said they had been working on that with Sterling. It wasn't that big of a deal. I knew my girls wouldn't be saying it again. They are normally the naughty word police. Watch out if you slip and call something stupid. Those girls will be all over you.
Last night, the girls were chattering away. My attention was elsewhere until the four-year-old said to me, in a teary voice, "Sissy called me a 'bitch.'" (Actually, she said 'binch,' which was totally cute.) I asked where they heard that word. Again, from Sterling. I told them that it is a very naughty word, almost as bad as they other one, and that they are absolutely not allowed to say it. Then I asked them if Sterling had taught them any other new words. Thankfully, no. I told them that Sterling says naughty words, which is not ok, and that if they hear those words, they should not repeat them.
This time, I was livid. I am mostly a "let kids act like kids" kind of person. I know my kids will eventually learn all sorts of precious gems from other kids but, right now, when they are so small, I am trying to lay a foundation that will help them stay out of trouble. I didn't think I would have to be talking to my preschoolers about why we don't say fuck and bitch.
This morning, I talked to the director of the preschool. She was not suprised to learn that Sterling had taught my children those words. Actually, she was a little surprised about the two-year-old because her only exposure to Sterling is before school and after, when all the classes are the playground. I was a little surprised to learn that Sterling had been kicked out of his last preschool for language. This is a four-year-old kid I'm talking about. The director assured me that they have worked with him extensively on this and they keep a very close eye on him so that the other children aren't exposed to it. Not close enough, clearly. I can understand about the first incident, when he was new to the school, but it is still happening. The director assured me she would speak to my daughter's teacher about Sterling.
There is nothing else I can do, I suppose. My girls won't be using those words again anytime soon. I won't give Sterling's parents the evil eye in the parking lot, even though you know I want to. It can't be easy parenting that kid (I didn't mention that he is also physically aggressive), but they need to do a better job. He is FOUR YEARS OLD. Those parents are doing a lot of things wrong.
What would you have done? Anything different? Nothing?