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The first time I heard him say it, I was caught off guard. We were getting ready for our daily trip to the playground, and the twins
were secured in the stroller while I took one last trip to the bathroom.
when a small voice rang out from the other room.
"Shut up with the fucking whining."
The voice was sweet and high-pitched ... and belonged to
my 3-year-old son.
Immediately, I rushed into the room, and my guy beamed
up at me from the stroller.
"Shut up with the fucking whining," he repeated,
challenging me with his signature angelic, wide-eyed look and a sly grin. It
was as if he were taking a new bike out for a spin, just to see how it handled.
And oh, this ride was sweeeet.
There were plenty of things I could have done in that
moment—ignored him, scolded him, explained that that's a bad word that only
mommies and daddies can use when they are really, really fed up with a certain
toddler's fucking whining. Instead, I did the worst possible thing: I laughed.
From that moment on, my son had a new catchphrase. He
tried it out everywhere around the neighborhood—shocking old ladies, amusing
caught-off-guard baristas and seriously confusing our mail carrier. It wasn't
long before his twin sister joined in the fun.
"Shut up with the fucking whining!" she announced
nonchalantly at the breakfast table one morning.
From that moment on, whenever a colorful expletive
escaped either child's mouth, we did our best to remain stone-faced. This only
caused our son to repeat the phrase over and over. Clearly dissatisfied that
his A-material was no longer getting big laughs, my son was now employing the classic
rules of comedy, making his delivery louder, faster, funnier.
We tried to put up an unfazed front. That is, until
the preschool teacher gave me a (well-deserved) talking-to.
"It's probably something he picked up on the
playground," she said, obviously trying to be kind, clearly knowing that this
was not by any stretch of the imagination a phrase being bantered around the
I felt like a fifth-grader being called out for detention.
At home that night, I vowed that we would curb our filthy language.