I love the fact that at the ripe ol’ age of 9, Scout is really still so innocent–especially when it comes to foul language. Of course 9 is still very young, but I would bet my MZ Wallace bag that some ‘swears’ fly around the school bus. One of the many good things about Scout being an Aspie is that he’s completely oblivious.
Not long ago, we received ‘Avatar’ in the mail from Netflix. Being the only people on earth that hadn’t seen the thing, we figured it was due. (well, my 14 year old daughter has seen it, but she’s much cooler than we parents are…!) I thought it would be fun to have a family movie night with it. I figured it was pretty innocent, from what I heard. When it came down to the naughty business all they did was hum. Acceptable.
What I didn’t realize was how much swearing would be in it. There were more than a few zingers, and Coreman and I kept looking at each other and wincing. Honestly, it’s not like Scout has never heard a ‘bad word’ before. Some of his favorite movies are Indiana Jones 1 and 2, and Indy isn’t beyond using profanity here and there. You know how you see a movie as a kid and then when you watch it as an adult you realize you never noticed and/or remembered stuff that was inappropriate?? It was like that. We winced a few times but didn’t dare make a big deal about it and draw attention to it. Most of the time they just kind of slip by, anyway–except for the glaring ‘Holy Sh*t!’ that Indiana exclaims when he sees a German ship approaching the boat he’s on. After a slight panic I said to Scout, “Isn’t that funny, Scout? He said ‘Holy Ship!’
After Avatar, however, I did feel it necessary to approach the ‘swear word’ topic. When we turned off the movie I acknowledged to Scout that there were quite a few bad words in there. He grinned. I asked him if he noticed anything. He grinned and nodded. I steeled myself and told him that he should tell us what he heard and we’ll tell him what it means. I am a firm believer that once the cat’s out of the bag, it’s a good idea for a child know what those mysterious words mean. It kind of takes the power away. Plus it’s better to know than let it innocently spill out at a very inopportune moment. “Hey Grandma! At Sunday School this morning we learned a lot of Holy Sh*t!”
So we told Scout that it was okay to say the swear words from Avatar to tell us what he heard. After a few moments of grinning and fidgeting, he says, “Well….I did hear one.” “What was it?” Coreman and I ask, on the edge of our seats. “God…?” he answers reverently.
Well bless his heart. He didn’t even catch the word ‘damn’ that came after it, but in this house we use Gosh. I’m not exactly the most pious person in the world–heck, I relish a good swear in the right time and place–but for some reason “God!” used as a ‘swear’ sounds wrong coming out of a young child’s mouth. (alas, V has just started to shift from “Oh my Gosh” to “Oh my God” just in the past few months. I try to correct her but I realize at 14 my power over what she says when she’s not around me is weak…!)
The next day, out of the blue, Scout comes up to me grinning again and says he thought of another bad word from the movie. OK, I think, this time it’s going to be a doozy. “Stupid!” he announces. I smile and nod my head.
I know this innocence won’t last forever. Heck, I allow him to watch Indiana Jones and listen to the Sweeney Todd soundtrack which very loudly and obviously says the S H * T word. (this I excuse because the music is awesome and heck, it’s culture, right? The fact that my son loves this complicated and bizarre score trumps the occasional swear, in my book.) I know someday the lightbulb will go off and he’ll realize the magical and seductive power of A Swear. But for now I’ll relish this innocent time and continue to say ‘Wow, Scout, that’s a holy ship!’ when we see a boat on the lake.