Today the Kaiser called his pre-school teacher a butthead. I suppose there are worse monikers he could have bestowed upon this lovely woman, but for a four-year old, I feel like “butthead” is fairly advanced. I’ve never said this word, so I have absolutely zero ideas about the origination of this lowbrow insult. At least last time, when he proclaimed Hayden to be a wanker, I could point a finger directly at the Kaiser’s father. Easy.
This, though… Man, this was embarrassing. I apologized. I didn’t even try to have a talk with the kid amidst the madness that accompanies 5pm at a day care. I promised his teacher that we’d talk at home. We’d planned a playdate with two kids at school, though, and as I struggled to load three children into my tiny, decrepid BMW, I was well aware that the talk would wait.
We did talk. The Kaiser gets it. He knows that what he said was insanely inappropriate. We discussed hurt feelings and respectful action and how to treat our friends.
“How would you feel if someone called you that?” I ask.
“It would hurt my feelings,” he replies, but the slight smile indicates that he would not, in fact, be hurt.
“Yeah? You know, you don’t talk to anyone like that. But you really don’t talk to teachers like that.”
He nods. “I know, Mommy.”
“Let’s make her a card to say you’re sorry, alright?”
He asked me to illustrate the inside of the card, but I refused, saying that it should come from him. It’s not that I didn’t want to help, but I… can’t draw. Like really. Plus, it’s cute if it comes from him. It’s just creepy if you open a card and see a poor attempt by someone’s mother.
My best friend thinks I’m a schmuck. I texted her the details of his transgression and punishment. I told her I promised the Kaiser that if this happens again I’ll take 10 trains for a week. Her reply? “Way to lay down the hammer, mom.”
I’m not on the same page with everyone else about what constitutes offensive language. I have no problem if I hear my kid mumble “damn.” I have no issue with him referring to his balls as, well, balls. It’s the language that is used to hurt that I find intensely offensive. In my house, calling someone stupid or ugly or a butthead, these are the things I do not tolerate. I do my best to explain that and my reasoning for it. I’m trying to teach good judgement, and that’s a process.