There comes a time in every child’s life where he or she inevitably says something objectionable within his or her mother’s earshot, and it requires the use of soap to wash out the offense from said child’s mouth.
When I was a child, my mother washed my mouth out with soap exactly one time. For the longest time I thought I remembered the word I used, but the word I thought it was I actually remember saying when we lived in Washington state during dinnertime, and my mouth definitely got washed out when we lived in California, so I honestly cannot remember the offending word, but upon saying it my mother proceeded to march me to the bathroom and wash my mouth out with soap. It was in the early 1980s when the hand pump soaps were just released, and so rather than making me suck on a bar of Ivory, I got a squirt of Softsoap or Dial. Disgusting.
In the Cootie house, we don’t curse. And if we do (which is rare), it’s mild and out of earshot of the kids. Listen, I’m human. It happens. But I’ve tried to raise the kids to be conscious of language, to the point where when I’m watching TV, if CootieBoy hears an offending word, he’ll ask, "Mama, why are you watching that show? They are cussing!"
Well, a few weeks ago, my precocious son and I were playing a board game together, when a particularly objectionable phrase was yelled out with great jubilation after a good move in the game.
I won’t repeat the phrase here.
But rest assured it is NOT a phrase that has EVER been uttered in my house.
"Um, where did you hear that?"
He turned to point at the TV, then snatched his hand back and claimed he couldn’t remember. It was obvious he DID remember, but he refused to tell me. Since it was his first offense and he obviously didn’t know what the phrase meant, I simply told him that the word he used was absolutely unacceptable. explained why it was unacceptable (without going into TOO much detail on the definition of the word) and not to be used ever again. I told him if it was, he’d get his mouth washed out with soap. He agreed, apologized, and we continued on with our game.
Later that night, after the kids were in bed, I popped in a movie I got from Netflix that had been sitting next to the TV. It was a movie that I had already told the kids was NOT a kid-appropriate movie (it was PG-13). Within ten minutes, a character in the movie uttered the EXACT SAME PHRASE that CootieBoy had said to me during our board game.
The following morning when he woke up for school, we had a chat about that fact that I could no longer trust him to NOT watch a movie I had determined was something he was not old enough to watch. He tried to deny he watched the movie, but he gave himself away when he mentioned the title of the movie during his protest (a tidbit I had NOT said when I confronted him that morning), I assured him that I knew he had, and that he was now in trouble for lying about it. He quickly apologized and we moved on.
All has been fine since then. Offensive word: not used. Netflix movies: not watched (I now only put kid-appropriate movies next to the TV).
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Lately, the kids have really gotten into playing Minecraft online (I cannot WAIT for that game to fall by the wayside). I’m okay with them playing the game itself, but they have also started watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. I thought this was okay until one day a couple months ago they were watching a video and I heard the narrator spout off some coarse language.
"Nope! We’re done! No more Minecraft videos!"
I’ll admit, however, that I’ve been lax in following up on this. Last week CootieGirl was watching a Minecraft video and I heard the narrator curse. I immediately told her to log off from YouTube, and that she was no longer allowed to watch the videos anymore. She stopped watching, but the message was not given to CootieBoy until a few days later when I saw him viewing a Minecraft video.
This past Sunday we headed out to watch our local minor league baseball team play. During the game, CootieBoy was periodically shouting at the batters, as fans are wont to do. Suddenly he shouted something offensive – an entirely new phrase that he had never said before – and at the same time I was turning to him to chastize him, he turned to me and said, "Mama, I don’t know what that means."
I told him I knew that he most likely learned the phrase from the YouTube videos, and told him that YouTube was officially banned in our house (which sucks because there are some British TV shows I watch on YouTube all the time). Once again I warned him that if I heard him use the new phrase again he’d get his mouth washed out with soap.
Last night upon arriving home from work I promptly hopped on the laptop the kids use and changed the parental controls to "super restricted" – including specifically banning YouTube access. Also, going forward, if the kids attempt to log into any website that I have restricted, I get a handy-dandy email telling me where they tried to go. Tonight I’ll do the same on the desktop computer.
My kids are growing up WAY too fast. I was at least 5th or 6th grade before I got my mouth washed out with soap. My son is due to get his washed out before he reaches the end of 3rd grade (and there’s less than a week left)!