Bolt from the Blue

I picked up Vyas from school on a Saturday afternoon as the school had declared it a working day to compensate for some holidays.He doesn’t run into my arms like the earlier years and thinks he is too ‘big’ for that now.

We were not even out of the school gate when it came.”Ma, what is fuck?”

I was sure I heard him wrong. Being the old-fashioned mom that I am, a typical automatic reflex was to do a quick 360 degree sweep and a reverse sweep to check if anyone heard him. With not enough time to work up an intelligent-sounding answer, I answered extempore- “Its a bad word. Where did you hear it?”. “Ma, I heard A say it. B and I asked him what it meant, but looks like he doesn’t know! ”

Too much dwelling on the ‘subject’ was not going to take us anywhere. So I decided to call it ‘over and out’ and said, ‘OK, you will not use it because its a cuss word and a poor one at that.. Not inside the school, not at home, nowhere! You get it? Probably A is not aware that its not right to use. Am I clear?”, trying to still sound cool. “Awright! But shall we just look up the dictionary? So I can go and tell the fellow what it means?”, he persisted and mommy was not impressed! “Pattu, there are many interesting words for which we shall look up the dictionary. Let’s not bother with this one.” My tone this time must have implied “PERIOD!” for he didn’t prod further.

I knew this day would come, but not this early!! I know you don’t seriously sit and prepare to dole out a nice sounding answer to the child, still…. He is not going to ask me when he’s older because he’d have figured it out himself and hopefully, will apply discretion and keep himself out of trouble. The language of school going children is liberally interspersed with profanity and that disturbs me! Every second movie, English, Tanglish, Hinglish, any-glish for that matter will have ‘shit’, ‘eff’ or any of its cousins in the script! And kids are famous for latching on to things that are tagged forbidden. Apples may be the only exception!!

Tell me how you’d have handled this your style please!!:-)

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20 thoughts on “Bolt from the Blue

  1. If i was in your situation i would start reading up on parenting books and how to delicately provide my child sex education.

    Profanity is subjective. Your worry that children use profanity is pointless. Kids of today are smarter than you and me from yesterday. They learn faster and cant be fooled. You’d be better off educating him subtle things like good touch vs. bad touch and private space and personal items etc., now.

    Better late, than never.

    P.S. My assumptions are he will definitely ask someone else and if that someone happens to be another school friend the amount of nonsense he will learn would be so appalling, you could have told him the right things yourself.

  2. Guess he will find out anyway. did you know that urban dictionary has a different meaning to that word?
    2. N. Implying complete and utter confusion 3. N. a really stupid person 5. adj. Can be used to modify any word for more passion 6. Int. Expresses disgust 7. Int. Expresses complete suprise and joy 8. adv. Can be used to make a command more urgent

    If this response is defeating your purpose, pls feel free to remove it

    • LR, I did not even think of checking out what meanings the dictionary carried:) Thanks! This time, am surely prepared with lot of options you all have shared!!

    • LOL! Innum ennallaam varaporadho! Like the other day when he pointed at someone behind me saying, ‘amma, she’s a bitch’. Quite flustered, I turned around to find that it was (fortunately) a ‘she’ dog!

  3. You handled it quite well – I’d have probably crashed the car into the nearest object if Bunnu’d asked me this question

    Have handled some such questions (nothing this drastic though !) – I try to be as matter of fact and “in context” about the query – if I get hyper, then he thinks its a “forbidden fruit” kind of thing and becomes more curious/interrogative

  4. You should tell him the truth, that it is a word used to express a blanket of emotions and reactions such as shock, surprise, disappointment, loss, sorrow, mild anger, apoplectic rage and other mostly negative reactions by people whose vocabulary is inadequate to express such emotions and by people whose cranial activity is so preposterously slow that they cannot come to think of the right words to say when presented with such situations. At this point you ask him ‘Surely your vocabulary isnt that bad? And surely you are a fast thinker?’ Make using the word look uncool and if it helps tell him that girls hate boys who use such words, I wish somebody had told me that, oh fuck 🙂

    Think this is an easy question to answer, at least easier than the question ‘Mom, how are babies formed?’ Of course you can also handle that by presenting to him the scientific details of human embryogenesis.

    • Dilip, Karthik,

      Its only a matter of time before he picks up the rest. Will keep your points in mind:) He is steadily ‘graduating’ from Shrek, Home Alone, HarryP kind of movies and frankly, I dread such times ahead:) Dilip, incidentally his school gave handouts on how they should learn to say no to ‘bad touch’, abuse, anything causing discomfort etc with several pictures and examples. Was a good one and wanted to do a post on it. The little one did a neat shredding and am yet to find another copy. A nice one and I did explain it to him. Teaching embryogenesis seems a little too early what with my boy not understanding ‘discretion’. The first thing he’d do is go and ‘share’ his knowledge with friends and sundry!

      Karthik, the ‘girl’ angle is already helping at home:) He tidies up his room, insists on wearing a full jean etc when his girlfriends are visiting;) For you, better late than never!!

  5. I too think you handled it well. He will know it anyway. I am dreading those days myself. Here, as of now we are straight forward with questions relating to body-parts and words carelessly uttered by elders. It has helped in the sense that he stopped asking questions once he knew the answers.

  6. Hi Vidya,

    I too got caught in a similar situation when Vignesh was in Class IV, two years back. His table partner was a girl, and she had told to a few students around her, including Vignesh, that her van friend commented her that day on her colour dress that she looked sexier. That became the topic of that day’s lunch, and a few curious boys were discussing what could be the meaning of “sexy”. Although, Vignesh had been a silent spectator in that group, the teacher had barged into the classroom, at that moment, and saw a few of her students, hastily looking up the dictionary to find the meaning. Immediately, she had got upset on their behaviour and sent a written note in the diary to all the students who were part of that gang.

    The next day morning, I was there in the school promptly waiting for the teacher to appear, so that I wanted to make sure that Vignesh was not the kind of boy, who would indulge in such nasty things etc. The whole of previous night, my husband and myself, were trying to tell Vignesh, not to get into too much of such kind of things. Poor chap! He had to hear so much from both of us that night…

    How easier it was when we were kids….Not so much of exposure that our kids have…yet we had a golden kiddish period where we were ignorant of all such things like this.

    • Uma, looks like the teacher took it a little too seriously? I read in some blog where a mom smartly handled it saying it referred to the gender, the column you fill in a form:) As Dilip says, kids are way smarter and informed than they appear to be! I understand its difficult to come to terms with such situations with the kind of upbringing we all have had. There is no way we can stop the kids from picking up information from sundry! We teach them to question and encourage curiosity, but expect them to ask only the things that are ‘right’ by our value books! Don’t worry, he did not do anything nasty!

      @Dilip: We are learning as parents and it takes time to grow up:)

  7. @umaspeakout: You have successfully sowed the seeds of curiosity in your childs mind for looking up similar things.

    I find it appalling when you use works like…

    “so that I wanted to make sure that Vignesh was not the kind of boy, who would indulge in such nasty things etc.”

    What your child needs is sex education. What you did was ‘demonization of sex’ and that will NOT work. The reason is simple, your child knows you are trying to cover up something he is not supposed to know and that is exactly what his curious mind will try to learn.

    I pity your outlook of the situation when you say things like…

    “yet we had a golden kiddish period where we were ignorant of all such things like this.”

    You were happy you had no awareness of your sexuality? wow! I regret i was not educated earlier because i used to believe in some nasty things other kids would tell at school and i don’t even wanna get started what those were.

    Sit down with your child and tell him its “inappropriate” to use such words in a public forum or against classmates and such words are of poor taste and are intended to hurt.

    So what if your child was not a “Spectator” of that gang? What if he lied to you to escape you and your husbands ga ga about how evil a child was trying to be. Your child is curious, just like every other child. Your child is a whole lot smarter than what you and i were in our times, just like every other child of today. You cannot fool them for long.

  8. I’ve been asked that by Div when she was 6, coz the building troublemaker had scribbled it on the basement wall. I just explained that it is usually used as a bad word to express strong feelings, and that even adults try to avoid using that word, and that we had the gift of speech, and should make good use of it, and there are better ways to express anger. She accepted it, but I think maybe I could’ve been a little opener in the conversation.

    Now I think, I would ask the kid what he/she thinks it means or what its used for…pretty interesting answers will come out. I think kids should feel free to come to us for the most difficult q’s, because I wouldn’t want them to get the answers from unknown sources! But looking up ‘fuck’ in the dictionary with him would’ve been tough. Maybe you could look it up yourself, and then give him an age-appropriate explanation, that way he knows you care about his understanding things, but you are still managing to filter out what is not appropriate for him at his age. of course, what they hear in school, songs and TV is so uncensored, it makes my blood boil!

  9. Starry, I think you handled it pretty well. At 6, that is all a child can comprehend. With Vyas, it came at the most inappropriate and unexpected moment that left me quite perplexed! And I did what I did:) Checked up the dictionary after seeing LR’s comment above:) Thankfully, nothing figurative!

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