Thursday, October 9

Don't Laugh!

I'm a horrible father.

Elijah (my two-and-a-half-year-old son) is cussing. I had one chance to nip it in the bud, and I failed horribly.

Here is how it happened. All summer Elijah and Luke (my one-and-a-half-year-old son) wore Velcro sandals. Elijah has become quite adept at putting on his sandals. Whenever it was time to go outside Elijah Luke and I would go to the garage, and Elijah could put on his sandals while I put on Luke's. Elijah got enough experience that he could put on his sandals in about sixty seconds, which is about how long it took me to put on Luke's sandals. So, it used to be about sixty seconds from the decision it was outside playtime, to actually being outside playing. Now, the weather is getting cooler, so Mom and I have decided that Luke and Elijah should start wearing socks and closed-toed shoes.

This Saturday I was watching the kids and we decided to go outside to play. We went to the garage door to put on our shoes, and as usual I started to put on Luke's shoes while Elijah put on his own shoes. For an adult the difference between shoes and sandals, in terms of putting them on children's feet, is negligible; however, for a two-and-a-half-year-old the difference is significant. As I put Luke's shoes on I was only vaguely aware that Elijah was becoming more and more frustrated with his shoes. By the time I was lacing up Luke's last shoe. Elijah had wedged his foot into his first shoe such that he could get it neither all the way off, nor all the way on. He had been whining, moaning and grunting throughout the entire process, but a constant low level of noise from Elijah is standard operating procedure, so I wasn't paying much attention.

The scene crescendoed with Elijah sitting on the door step violently kicking his partially shod foot up and down, and saying through his teeth in his most disgusted/frustrated voice, "Do, something with this fricken shoe!"

I think I was most shocked by the fact that even though he was compleatly mentally and physically frustrated, he was able to clearly articulate the source of his frustration. Hearing this crystal clear catharsis from Elijah, along with the precocious pseudo-explicative "fricken", was such a shock that before I thought about it I did the worst thing I could possibly have done while trying to raise a child. I burst into laughter.

Someone once told me that the key to being a good parent is not laughing at the right time. Well, obviously, I am not a good parent. Elijah thought I was laughing at his use of the word fricken, which I suppose I was. So, he immediately adopted it as his new favorite adjective. We have spent all week telling him that we don't use the word fricken, but yesterday morning, while I was getting the boys ready for breakfast, I noticed that while he was goofing around at the kitchen table he was repeating under his breath "fricken, fricken, fricken, fricken, ...". I was able to get him to stop, but I am afraid the word is now cemented in his brain, along with the knowledge of how to properly use it.

Oh well, I guess we're all learning.