Vail Novice Father: New dad learns to watch what he says
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –I was in the kitchen, trying to puzzle-piece all of the Tupperware containers into the corner lazy-Susan cupboard. This cupboard acts as a catch all for anything kitchen-related. Therefore it is perpetually overstuffed and on the verge of vomiting all its contents onto the floor. When I need to load a sinks-worth of scrubbed Tupperware containers back into their home, it is not an idle challenge.
No surprise: the cupboard reached its fill and spit out two-thirds of the mixing bowls, soup pots, and plastic pitchers onto the hardwood floor.
“Oh man,” I said in frustration, partly, in self-scolding, somewhat, but mostly in defeat because I had known the outcome from the beginning but still went forward with my plans anyway.
I don’t see myself as a person who says: “oh man.” And I didn’t consciously say it. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t have even registered it except my two year old daughter repeated “oh man” right away and like a broken record for the next 15 minutes.
It could have been much worse.
The Kid is at the stage where her verbal communication is exploding. A lot has to do with her confidence in repeating and remembering words.
She’ll happily repeat any word we say to her. She’s even stringing words together into small phrases: “I want cookie.”
In fact, The Kid has gotten so confident with her vocabulary that she even mastered the word “yes.” This is after months where I lived in a world filled with “no.” She hasn’t yet forgotten “no,” that’s still her favorite word in the whole wide world. Yet to hear the word “yes” come out if her mouth is like a flock of white doves singing “We are the World.”
The Kid reserves “yes” only for answering the following question: “Do you want a cookie?”
The wife and I are trying to get her to say more polite sentences. “May I please have more cookies,” we say.
“More cookie,” she says.
“May I please,” we break the sentence up into a bite-sized piece, Sesame Street-style.
“May I PLEASE,” she says with emphasis.
“Have more cookies,” we finish.
“More cookie,” she says.
“May I please have more cookies,” we say, with each word in the rhythm of a drumbeat.
“Cookie more please cookie please more may I please MORE COOKIE please PLEASE,” she says, shotgunning out the words in hopes that she’ll land the right combination at some point to win her prize.
It could be much worse.
I have a friend who took his wife and toddler son to his sister’s wedding. As the reception went on outside on the hotel lawn, he brought his son inside to change his diaper in an empty parlor. He banged his shin on the side of an end table and dropped the F-bomb right in front of his son. The toddler then spent the rest of the evening shouting and whispering, singing and saying, the F-bomb to every guest at the wedding. The child was very happy with the attention he got by using that word.
In two years I’ve become well practiced in substituting curse words with replacements that have less edge. Even outside the home “dang,” “bummer,” and “oh man” are more likely to escape my lips than their more seedy counterparts. But those seven deadly words are still there, buried deep within my reptilian brain. And one day one will climb out in a moment of passion right in front of The Kid’s always-attentive ears.
I just hope it’s not around mixed company.
Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. Submit comments to email@example.com.