The past two weeks have been craptastic. Not craptastic in the "the weather sucks" or in the "too bad I didn't get that promotion" kind of way. Craptastic in a way that involves the death of friends and possible cancer diagnoses (mmm plural) and job stress and many uses of the cliche "when it rains, it pours." Or floods. Whatever. Normally I'm pretty good about the whole 'be there for other people thing,' but recently it seems like there has been so much to handle that I've kind of withdrawn and been a way less-than-perfect rock for loved ones in need.
Loss and depression seems to be the theme of not just my week, but my family's as well. When my nephew (the 14 year old one) lost a friend in a car accident this past week, I went to my sister's house to babysit my 7 year-old niece so that the family could go to the memorial service. By the time I got to her house, I was a mess, they were a mess, and everyone but my niece was having some sort of a mental breakdown. My sister quickly shuffled her family out the door and then I was left with all these feelings of depression and resentment and anger as well as a 7 year-old who has no idea what's going on. Wanting to do something structured, where neither she nor I would have to think too hard about the awkwardness in the room, she got out her homework and proceeded to show me her assignment for the night.
"You have to change a letter or a sound," she said, showing me a list of ten spelling words. "Like this one. The word is bite, but I have to change a letter to make a new word, like kite, or change a sound to make a new word, like spite."
It sounded easy enough and it was until we got to the last word, which was 'hit.'
"I'm going to change it to shit," she said with a completely deadpan face, and for a moment, the first thing I thought of was, "Holy shit, I've been so careful not to use this word around her and she already knows it!"
Teaching kids about curse words is a parent's responsibility. This is not my place, nor do I feel comfortable educating children about why you shouldn't use words like shit when I, myself, am so very fond of them in the company of friends and on occassion strangers. Being emotionally drained and not having any idea what to do, I just said, "Julia, let's not use that word. It's not very nice and some people might get offended."
"People get offended by a lot of words," she replied. "You wouldn't care if I used the word 'angry' or 'mean.' Those aren't nice words either. I'm going to write down 'shit' now"
"Julia," I said. "For me, just because it's been a terrible week, please don't write down any curse words. They're not nice to use, they might hurt someone's feelings, and there are lots of other words you can use instead. Why don't you use the word 'bit' or 'fit?'"
And with that, I heard one of the loudest, most mellodramatic sighs I've ever heard followed by a slow motion eye roll followed by, "'Shit' is a word. duh. It's in the dictionary. My teacher is a grown-up. Stop being soooooooooooo immature."
And with that, I laughed for the first time in days and stopped being sooooooooooo immature.