the f word

It was early fall.

The boys and I were driving somewhere in the minivan.   I was listening to the radio and the three of them were quietly chatting in the backseat.

A little too quietly.

I turned down the radio a bit and started listening to what they were so passionately discussing.   They were talking about BAD words.   The words that they couldn’t say.   Ever.

I held my breath a little as they continued talking.

Ryan(8) was telling them that there were definitely words that they were never supposed to say.   Reid(6) was agreeing and said that they could get in trouble for saying bad things.   Rhett(3) was asking what the words were they weren’t supposed to say.

I held my breath a little more.

Ryan said that he couldn’t say the words they aren’t supposed to say or he would get into trouble.

A warm little feeling in the middle of my heart was initiated by those precious words from my wise first born.

Reid said there was a word SO BAD that NO ONE SHOULD EVER SAY IT.

I held my breath again.

Ryan agreed and said it started with an F.

I held my breath some more.

Reid said he knew what the bad F word was.

Reid said it was the WORST word in the world.

Reid said it was…

*Ryan stopped him* Don’t say it Reid! The worst word in the world does start with an F and no one should ever say it.

I nearly passed out.

Deciding that I should probably not risk my three year old hearing the F word, I entered the conversation…Yes, there are some words we just don’t say.

Reid insisted that he knew the F word

Reid said it was a very, very very BAD word.

Reid said it was…FAILURE!   Mommy, isn’t FAILURE the worst word in the world?   It starts with an F.

That warm little feeling in the middle of my heart widened and enveloped my whole body.

I am pretty much the best mother in the world.   With my love and guidance,   my children had tagged FAILURE as the horrible F word.

I am a parenting genius.

I should write books.

People NEED to know how I work this motherhood magic.

I smiled at Reid and gently said…Yes Reid, Failure is the F word.

Over the next few weeks as I planned my parenting book tour with that super warm feeling lingering throughout my genius body I would think back to that sweet conversation in the minivan and just giggle.   I was finally seeing in my children what patient mothering, loving correction and homeschooling was producing and it was beautiful.


One night about a month later blog-Stedman said, “Did you know that the boys know the F word?”

I giggled and said,   “Yes, they think it is FAILURE.   Isn’t that cute?”

No.   They know the actual word.


Yes.   They know the ACTUAL word.

No they don’t!

Uh.   Yes.   They do.   Reid said it.


I was getting them out of the car and Ryan was holding his hand over Reid’s mouth and telling him to stop talking and when I told him to remove his hand, Reid started saying…





Ryan screamed NO!   And I stopped and had a little chat with them.   It won’t happen again.

My warm feeling vanished.

My parenting book tour canceled.

My level of genius exposed.

The good news is that I married well and whatever blog-Stedman told the boys has stuck.   I haven’t heard any discussion about any F words…

including FAILURE.


  1. people would be a little horrified at my leniency with the whole language thing.

  2. Ha ha! Too funny! I have a funny story about naughty words. I am a kindergarten teacher and hear it ALL. Last year on the playground, a little girl came up to me and said “Joe” said the “M” word. I looked at my teaching partner and we raised our eyebrows. “The M word?” We both thought for a minute and couldn’t come up with a naughty “M” word so I sweetly asked her what the word was. Well, it was a naughty word…ummm….two words, actually. The first one was “mother”. I’m sure you can figure out the second one. At least she was right…”mother” does start with M.

  3. Oh my. ha! That is craaaazy.

  4. That falls into what I call Grown-up Words. They’re going to hear them eventually. Grown-ups can say them, kids cannot. I’d like to know what blog-stedman said to them.

  5. I love it. I remember when my kids did that with the “S” word, when I asked what it was, they said “stupid”.

    Now they know the real “s” bad word!

  6. This is a great story. My kids say, with expletive emphasis, “DAMAGE!” when they feel the need for a swear. I’m pretty sure they must have heard someone say “dammit” somewhere in order to come up with this version, but so far, I’m letting “damage” slide. I like the idea of “grown-up words,” though. That’s a nice way to explain it.

  7. I love that. I am going to remember that one.

  8. When my daughter was is kindergarten she told me that her friend had whispered a bad word to her. A VERY bad word. She went on to tell me is started with SH.
    The VERY BAD word was shut-up.
    Another time, we were both really frustrated with a project that was going badly. I threw it down and said, “This makes me feel like swearing!” She replied, “Me too, and I don’t even know how!”

  9. My kids have learned all the curse words since moving to the fancy high-class school full of rich kids. At their old school kids saw porn and knew what pot was by 1st grade, but they didn’t know curse words. It’s a funny world.

    One of my daughter’s friends got called the real F-word at school and my daughter (3rd grader at the time) assured her, “Don’t worry! F**k isn’t a bad word! I’ve never even heard that word before. What do you think f**k means??” She relayed this story to me and I nearly wrecked the car. “Nooooo!That IS a bad word, honey!” How she managed to miss that one with an oil-field working daddy, I’ll never know.

  10. This is too funny. My son is too young (4 months) to have moments like these, but I’m looking forward to it!

  11. That’s so sweet that you still believe 😉
    I’m thinking your kids will end up to be motivational speakers or really good sales people!
    You can still plan your parenting tour! Because there is no saying of the F word, young lady!

  12. Oh yes, we are leading parallel lives! I have a funny on my site, (several funnies) about bad words and our boys. BobSaggett? Really? So innocent.

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