It’s bound to happen. They can strike at any moment, in any setting, at any time. The minute the words slip out of their mouth your head drops and you try to avoid eye contact with any other grown-up within ear shot. Your child is repeating the word or phrase over and over wanting you to acknowledge what they are saying but you are so embarrassed all you can do is fluster.
Toddlers often repeat what they hear or can’t quite pronounce certain words and they end up saying something totally embarrassing. My son is 2 and in the stage of life where he repeats everything, talks all the time, and at times has trouble pronouncing certain words and letters. All of this has led to some interesting conversations, strangers laughing, weird looks, and me being completely embarrassed.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
My toddler loves clocks. He can walk into a room and immediately will tell you there is a clock on the wall, on the stove, microwave, or shelf. The only problem is for a long time he would skip the “L” in the word clock. Because of this I would dread our trips to the grocery store. The scales in the produce section were clocks to him and every time we passed one he would yell at the top of his lungs, “Look mommy, a clock!” but there would be no “L” sound. In my attempt to be less embarrassed I would loudly proclaim “Yes, Look at that CLLLLOCK” making sure I put extra emphasis on the “L” so everyone would know that indeed he was talking about a timepiece and not a man piece. Thankfully, he has now mastered his L’s (and has also decided clocks are not that cool anymore.)
I am by no means a saint and I tend to let some not so nice phrases and words slip out of my mouth when my son is around. I resort to swear words most often when I’m frustrated and he seems to like to repeat what I say… and it is usually in context! For instance, sitting in the packed DMV waiting to get new tabs he proceeds to drop his car and yell the not-so-nice version of “dang it” at the top of his lungs. The people in the waiting area snicker and laugh behind their hands as I try to tell J that he should not say those words. Undeterred by my attempts at parenting, he just keeps repeating himself over and over in a sing-songy voice while playing with his cars. In my desperation, I hand him my phone in hopes that a YouTube train video will silence him. Thanks goodness it worked because we were there for about 20 more minutes and I don’t know if I would have survived!
During the winter my husband and I curl. Because of this, J has grown up watching curling both in person and on TV; he loves it. His favorite thing to do is to go to the curling club and push rocks from the edge into the circles (he prefers the yellow rocks if you ask him). If any of you are familiar with curling you know that there is usually a lot of yelling involved: “Sweep!” “Sweep harder!” and “Go!” are all common things yelled during a curling match. J likes to yell these things at me when he is “curling” and it is really cute. What is not so cute is when we took him to watch USA Curling Nationals in Fargo and during the men’s semi-finals, while the arena was relatively quiet besides the skips on the ice giving instructions to their teams, he starts yelling, “SWEEP HARDER! GO, GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!” Literally everyone turned around and looked at us, including the players on the ice. To say I was a little embarrassed would be an understatement, and we had quite a few people comment to us afterward that we indeed had a future Skip on our hands.
I am quickly realizing that I can’t always control what will come out of my toddler’s mouth (though I will work on making sure bad words don’t come out of my mouth for him to repeat!). I am also realizing that instead of being totally embarrassed, I need to just put my chin up and move on while teaching my son that there are certain things we probably should not say in public. When I look back on J’s toddler years, these will be the moments that I will always remember and they are also moments that we will all be able to laugh about later.
I would love to hear that I am not the only one with a toddler who has a colorful vocabulary, so please share some of things your kids have said in public that have made you want to run and hide!