Happy Birthday, my dearest Potty Mouth [PopScope Series]
I’m learning something new each day and the same can be said for my toddler. Two years later, I’m learning an important lesson in parenthood, first- hand: If I want my kid to be a good person, I need to be a good person myself.
Here we are… two years later and my partner and I are pretty chuffed at the job we’re doing with our two-year old’s development. She’s chubby, extremely chatty, quite smart, steadily revealing an electrifying personality and has a unique personality trait: excellent mimicry. While it’s all this growth is fantastic and welcoming, having someone attempting to copy my moves and speech is quite scary. Let me explain…
Because my daughter’s vocabulary expands daily (with roughly 5–7 words added weekly), as “new" parents, we tend to celebrate each new one learnt, leading to excessive repetition of this fresh word…or song. The same applies. Much to our joy (and eventual slight irritation) the “Happy Birthday" song or the recital of ABCs is heard (and participated in) probably 10 times per day. Being her dad, I’m obviously happy for her growth until the day I needed to nip one particularly newly learnt word in the bud: F**k.
“F**k!”, “F**king hell" or “For f**ksakes", are a few of my choice “colourful” words, I OCCASIONALLY release — depending on the context of course. Could be about work, sports, current affairs or friendly conversations, but somewhere, somehow, an f-bomb needs to fly. Now, those that know me, know I got quite a potty mouth and I’d like to believe that I’ve done a great job at reducing the use of any swear words by 99.8% at home — until I opened an email that ruined my day and dropped a really audible “F**I!”. Instant regret.
She ran all over the house, shouting the word excitedly, dropped it casually between her toddler-ish conversation and, to much embarrassment, said it to someone later at the mall. Worst of all, she knew the context of frustration to use that word for/in. I suspect it may have been my over-eagerness to remove this word from her vocabulary (and memory), but the more I expressed that this is a “bad word”, the more I seemed to encourage its use. I changed my tactics by relying on her inevitable short memory to work instead. It worked! From that next morning to date, I have not heard her using any vulgarities in the house and it’s been a relief. However, I can’t take comfort in this victory because this parenthood journey is long and it’s quite likely that it could repeat itself in the future. As a result, I’ve had to introspect on how best to manage similar issues moving forward and came to the conclusion: “If I want my kid to be a good person, I need to be a good person myself.”
Two things to note here:
1. You don’t need to read academic journals to know that children mimic your behaviour as an adult — being around any child will demonstrate that, easily;
2. As a relatively open-minded person myself, question the actual definition of “good person” and who decides who is or isn't, but for raising my child, it just means not being a shitty person to/for themselves and society.
It’s because I want her to be a functionally decent member of society who contributes positively, that the way I carry myself, my actions and speech, needs to be consistent in my teachings, so she can mimic them easily. Now, change doesn’t happen overnight, but by being aware of what needs to be changed, you can start working on these aspects. A simple change I made was minding my language, at home and outside. That way, at least I reduce the chances of accidentally using it at home and increasing the use of softer, kinder language at home.
Since making this positive adjustment, my partner and I decided to apply it to our daughter’s newest developmental milestone: Potty Training. This has been the easiest phase so far because she took to her potty in one weekend! Sure, we’d have a few accidents between in the weeks that followed but for the most part, she’s comfortable and actually announces when she needs to go. And because it’s lifting the strain off my wallet (from not buying diapers), I will happily oblige with whatever she needs to make it a pleasant loo experience. Leveraging off her favourite cartoon’s song about using the toilet, her repetitive nature and the need/want to mimic, potty training went off without a hitch. We take turns sitting by her side as she goes about her business, making polite encouraging conversation and doing the occasional toilet-use demo should an accident occur. This approach is paying back tenfold and I am delighted by the results — especially happening before she turned 2.
We finally turned 2 yesterday and I couldn’t be prouder. So, happiest birthday to my Baby Bear! The first things I thanked my Ancestors for was the continuation of her sublime health, divine protection of her Life/Spirit/Light, patience and kindness to understand her Being, as well, more time on this Earth, for herself and us as her parents. My only ask was for more strength to lead, teach, protect and provide for her. To realise my requests, would also need some initiative from me in the form of my personal conduct and I acknowledge that it would be a lifelong process. While I’ll never be a perfect human (nor do I expect others to be), some inner-work and personal improvement would be required from me to mould her into the best perfect, perfectly [imperfect] person she’s can be.