"Butt Crack" and other things not to teach your kid to say

by doodaddy on May 23, 2008


From “Babies,” one of Boo’s favorite books, by Gyo Fujikawa

One of my daughter’s favorite naptime books is full of bucolic baby drawings doing bucolic baby things: getting into the jam jar, sleeping, hugging. You know, icky cute stuff, but it seems to put her to sleep.

In one panel, there’s a kid bent over showing off his future in the plumbing trades, so of course Boobaby points and says “Butt crack!”

Boo also knows to pull my finger before farting. Somewhere she picked up the word “pimple” and uses it all the time now, usually while pointing at a stranger. And while it’s not “bad language” strictly speaking, she’s also prone to telling me after a day of gardening, “Your armpit is stinky.”

It used to be that Boo just cussed accidentally. Now the inappropriate language is learned and intentional.


Joy of joys, at TWO YEARS OLD she’s picking up the habit from other kids, too. A new friend is A—,  another of Boo’s 4-year old buddies. Boo and A— were swinging on the saucer together with another older kid. I was pushing, and so, of course, they ignored me entirely. (I love when toddlers treat me like a fly on the wall, even though I’m most of six feet tall and twelve stone.)

Anyway, with me basically invisible, the two older girls whispered, laughed uproariously, and then looked guiltily around, finally noticing me there. I betrayed no reaction, so they raised their voices for me to hear the naughty things they were saying.

“I’m going to take Cinderella and put her in my mouth!” they started. Oh, lord, I thought. Where is this going?

I was right to worry. “I’m going to put Cinderella in my pee-pee!” shouted the other girl, Boobaby looking on curiously. “I’m going to put her in my butt!” was the next escalation. Boo laughed a lot at that. Yikes, I thought.

Imagine Doodaddy trying to choose the right words to shut this down but in a non-punitive, cool-parent way. While I was considering, because everyone knows all the right terms these days, the first girl finished off the cycle: “I’m going to put Cinderella in my penis!”

Now, if these girls had been sitting off somewhere giggling and I wasn’t meant to hear, I wouldn’t have intervened — secret naughty talk is normal and probably important for development. I sure did it a lot myself as a kid — but I knew to keep it a private habit to be experimented with only around my friends. But in this case, since the girls were trying to make me hear it — and my daughter, for that matter — I finally cut it off with a quick “that’s-inappropriate-talk-LET’S GO PLAY ON THE TEETER TOTTER!”

Clearly, no matter how hard we try to keep Boobaby’s language pure, she’ll learn the bad words from her older friends. Is that a good enough excuse not to try?

I hope so, because I’ve always felt like a life where you can’t say “butt crack” when the occasion arises is a life half-lived.

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tagged as , in language,mischief,raising a girl ·

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Rattling the Kettle May 23, 2008 at 7:49 am

I’m a little surprised you didn’t correct the girl who claimed to have a penis.

Then again, it being San Francisco, you just never know…


doodaddy May 23, 2008 at 8:22 am

Oh, lord, I didn’t want to get into that. Something about being a teacher, I guess, but I try never to discuss children’s private parts with them. Not my business.

Besides, who am I to say it actually was a girl? We have a dress-wearing boy at our playground — this could have been another one!


Xbox4NappyRash May 23, 2008 at 10:04 am

Maybe I’m too long in Amsterdam but I didn’t even think twice at the girl with a penis either.

‘Bucolic’ is the best word I’ve heard all week.


doodaddy May 23, 2008 at 10:09 am

Aw, c’mon, you have all those cool Irishisms to use! Like haver. And lassie.

And… um… biscuit.


Audubon Ron May 23, 2008 at 10:54 am

You sure these kids don’t have Tourette’s?

I’m just say’in.


mep May 23, 2008 at 11:20 am

For a while, my bub kept walking around saying, “shit, shit, shit, shit.” I’ve tried to clean up my act since then.

And on a semi-related note, I used to be a ninth grade teacher, and I used the word “crap” in class one day. After class, a girl game up to me to tell me that “crap” was considered a bad word at her house. I never would have guessed.


doodaddy May 23, 2008 at 11:30 am

Man, when I was teaching teenagers, I used to say “crap” on purpose just so they knew I was one of *those* sorts of teachers. Just because it’s a bad word at their house doesn’t make it a bad word in my class. After all, “evolution” is a bad word in some houses!


twinbabiesdad May 23, 2008 at 12:26 pm

My girls (5 years old) had a similar conversation a few months back.
I think we put an end to it with a simple “Guys. . . .”

Funny mep mentiones crap as being a bad word, we are trying to break each other of saying it. It doesn’t really bother me, and given my language to this point, I’m glad it’s what we are struggling with, but I’m anticipating the hassle my mom and other older family members will give us if we don’t try and put an end to CRAP.

It’s wicked funny, though, ’cause we all say it. So we are all constantly busting each other. Or one of them says it then says “Oops, I just said crap, oops I said it again, hee hee hee.” It’s fun to type it with abandon too.
CRAP,CRAP oh, it just not the same.



doodaddy May 23, 2008 at 1:02 pm

My original strategy was to replace baddish words with similar-sounding but goodish words, the way some people use “fudge.” Except I used “crepuscular” and “fluctuate.” So now Boo says fluctuate a lot.



Backpacking Dad May 23, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Watch out for “assmunch”. As in “I’m going to assmunch Barbie.”


doodaddy May 23, 2008 at 4:00 pm

She told me she owned a somersault today. Like, “I sooo *owned* that.”



Jessica May 27, 2008 at 12:12 pm

It could be a whole lot worse.

Lil’ Bum has trying me lately. Sometimes when she knows I’m within ears range she plays with words. Not usually saying anything wrong but rhyming with something wrong. Not a real word just something to see my reaction. She is quite the little stinker.

Do you make a big deal out of it or let it fly?


MommyCosm May 28, 2008 at 5:48 pm

The first complete sentence out of my sweet, little girl’s mouth…”Ernie goes down on Bert”…she was repeating Daddy. THAT didn’t make it into her baby book!

Not to stereotype roles here, but I do think it’s a dad’s right to teach some of the naughty words. Just know that they are going to come back to haunt you some day!


tanya25m May 28, 2008 at 6:58 pm

I’m going through a similar situation with my daughter… She curses freely and knows exactly when to say what.

About the pulling-the-finger trick, I didn’t understand… does she pull YOUR finger before SHE farts? My daughter tells my husband to pull HER finger before SHE farts!


doodaddy May 29, 2008 at 5:12 pm

She pulls, I fart. You need to teach the hubby a little something about the game!


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