Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The scariest four minutes of my week are during Children’s Moment at church. As soon as Bianca’s patent leather feet hit the floor and she escapes my pew, I immediately start to imagine what horrifying admissions could come out of her mouth.
For the congregation, these moments are hysterically memorable – like the morning I heard a little girl rat her mom out for using the family bible as a doorstop or the day a little boy told us (the entire congregation) that his dad’s favorite drink was beer; but for the parents…well they probably just wanted to dig a hole under their seat and sink into the floor.
There’s nothing wrong with either of the above-mentioned parents’ actions. In a pinch, I’d probably reach for the first book I could find to hold a door open. And I, like millions of other people, enjoy a nice, cold adult beverage every now and then. These just aren’t the kinds of things you want your children to announce to the church family.
And while I’m sure there are those few members of every congregation who would go home after hearing such stories and look down on the bible doorstop and beer-drinking families, I think most people do what I did – laugh and thank the Lord they weren’t the ones called out that day.
My nail-biting fear about children’s moment got me asking myself a much deeper question though – Why am I so worried? Everyone in this sanctuary is human, which means we’re all guilty of our own sins and weaknesses. And God is the only one who can judge. While he knows my weaknesses, he also knows I’m a good, loving mother who tries to teach my children to live a good life.
Now I don’t think I would automatically be able to laugh it off if Bianca unintentionally humiliated me in the middle of church, but I would like to think I could get through the moment without breaking-down in tears.
In my case I don’t worry that Bianca will call me out directly. Instead I’m worried she’ll drop a little four-letter word that will cue the entire congregation in to one of my biggest weaknesses – my mouth.
My tendency to sound like a truck-drive pulling into port to meet my sailor friends is not something I’m proud about, and it is absolutely something I work on daily. But there are those moments – like when I’ve spent a good hour getting everyone loaded up and out the door only to realize I’ve locked myself out…without my car keys – when the first thing that comes to mind is, Oh S#*%! or Aw, D@&* It!
I try to set a good example for my children and actually thought I was doing a pretty good job because I’d taught Bianca that we don’t say words like butt, stupid or crap.
I’d even been concerned I’d taken it a little too far when Bianca started to sound self-righteous about other people’s language. One afternoon we were out shopping when Bianca heard an adult she didn’t even know say butt. She puffed her chest and shouted, “We don’t say butt; we say bottom (which with Bianca’s accent sounds like bum.) Butt is a bad word!” I had a discussion with Bianca about how there are certain things that adults can say that just don’t sound very nice coming out of a sweet, little mouth; but it just sounded like a double standard…Do As I Say, Not What I Say.
I was actually quite shocked that Bianca was now three, lived in a house where both her parents are guilty of letting the occasional curse word slip, yet she’d never said any herself…
That was until I was passing through the dining room one afternoon while Bianca was playing a game at the table. I wasn’t even really paying attention until Bianca dropped a piece to the game and casually said, “Aw, D@#* It.”
“What did you just say?” I asked.
“I dropped my toy,” Bianca answered.
“I know, but what did you say?”
“I said D@#* It,” she said – still very casually.
“We don’t talk like that,” I replied.
“But you say D@#* It.”
Wow! That hit me like a ton of bricks to the chest.
And she’s right, I do. And what are our children more than anything else? They are mini reflections of us.
Yesterday there was a segment on the Today’s Show discussing the increase in usage of explicit language in our pop culture – especially on television.
I’m a HUGE supporter of our first amendment, especially as a former journalist, and I’m so glad that Modern Family aired their highly controversial episode where Lilly (a three-year-old) said a four-letter word. I’m glad they aired the episode because it gave me the chance to laugh and relax about a serious issue I face in my own home. It made me realize that I’m not the only parent in the world who is dealing with this issue. And I gave myself a little bit of a break and stopped beating myself up for being a horrible parent because my daughter heard me say Damn It.
The experts on the Today’s Show gave the following tips for dealing with explicit language with children.
1) Closely monitor the media your children are consuming. (Obviously when I watched Modern Family, Bianca was in bed.) Keep computers out of bedrooms and in a common family area. Watch the music your children download onto their i-Pods.
2) Turn the TV off. If you are unhappy with a particular program, like that episode of Modern Family, change the channel. Again, our freedom of speech also gives us the amazing freedom to choose what we do and don’t watch.
3) Talk to your children about your own expectations. In my house, my children, especially my boys, know for me personally I consider aint just as bad s#@*. In my book, poor grammar is right up there with poor language.
4) Don’t make a big deal about it when they slip up. If I’d reacted strongly when I heard Bianca say D#*@% It she would have know she’d gotten a rise out of me…leading her to want to say it even more. Simply explain to your child that it’s not a nice word that we all try not to say and move on….And say a little prayer that it doesn’t come up in church on Sunday.
So, what’s your best (and by best, I mean humiliating) story about your child embarrassing you in public?