My 8 year old daughter, Bailey: “Mom…do you know what tits are?”
Me: “Yes. Don’t use that word. It’s a bad word. Do you know what they are?”
Bailey: “Yeah, they’re boobs. Can I say boobs?”
Bailey: “Then why can’t I say tits if it means the same thing? How about I just don’t say tits at school.”
Me: “Stop saying that word, now!”
Bailey: “It really doesn’t make any sense that I can’t say tits when it means the exact same thing as boobs.”
Me: “Stop. I mean it.”
While half of you shake your heads disapprovingly and the other half nod knowingly, you have to admit….my foul mouthed 8 year old does have a point. If it means the same thing, why is one inappropriate while another is fine and dandy? I’m sure there’s some big long winded historical essay and peer evaluated research somewhere detailing the why, who, what, when and where….but I can’t even be bothered to supervise my own child’s YouTube adventures that allow her to acquire such language, let alone go through the effort of research.
Now as my husband pointed out, tits doesn’t mean boobs. It’s derivative of teats, which are one specific part of the breast. While I ponder the endless slang terms for various body parts….I have to wonder how “Hoo hoo dilly” and “Cha Cha” made the acceptable list, while others cause pearl clutching and assurance that fainting couches will never truly leave the interior design scene.
To be sure, my daughter has uttered far worse than “tits”. One winter not so long ago, she stood atop a sledding hill waiting for some teenagers to clear the way, lost her patience and screamed at the top of her scandalous wee lungs: “Hey KIDS! GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY!” And when a redheaded girl screams “Get the fuck out of the way,” you best be getting the fuck out of the way. She similarly dropped the F bomb at her fine upstanding Christian preschool repeating various versions of “We don’t say fuck do we mom? Fuck is a bad word. It’s not nice to say fuck. My brother says fuck all the time.” Thankfully her teacher knew that gingers don’t have souls anyway, so I don’t think that Jesus found out.
Now before you finger wag and assume my household is nothing more than a glorified haven for sailors who have been at sea so long that they lost capacity with all forms of communication outside of vulgarity, let me assure you that the dysfunction stems far, far deeper than that. To be honest, I’m not even certain how either of my children are still alive with me at the helm. I think if it weren’t for Frozen Burritos and Hot Pockets we would never have a hot meal. I’m not even sure what “matching socks” are, but that sounds a lot like something for families who have household staff.
Yet somehow, that pact I made with the devil all those years ago paid off, and despite the occasional lapse in appropriate language use, frequent questionable nutrient intake, and daily lack of matching socks…my kids are pretty great. They are respectful, well mannered, hilarious, intelligent, and every mom-brag on Facebook that makes you want to punch that mother in the face.
I don’t have a fabulous answer for her as to why she can’t say “tits” in place of or alongside “boobs” without getting into a too-deep- for- her- years conversation about certain words carrying more power than they should. While I will be the very first to admit that perhaps an 8 year old latching on to the word “tits” like a dudebro who only gets to see his own isn’t my finest parental moment, foul language does not translate to bad character. Even if she strung together a series of obscenities so offensive that George Carlin himself came over to our house to shake the hand of the lass who resurrected him from his eternal slumber…she would still be kind. She would still be loving. She would still be smart.
Yes, I keep her in check here and now, but someday she’ll be an adult, move out of my house, and have a life of her own. While I’m rolling around in my piles of money in my clean, child-free house, I’m sure her colorful vocabulary will have increased ten-fold. And she will still be fucking wonderful.