My daughter Lainey is five years old and I love her. We had just sat down to a family dinner of Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and peas. Lainey was starving. She excitedly leaned into her plate.
“This is going to be f—ing great!” she exclaimed.
I looked at my wife and nearly choked.
“What did you say, Lainey?” we said in unison.
Lainey’s wide smile turned, and she cried.
“I’m sorry!” she wailed.
“What did you say?” I repeated.
“You won’t be in trouble,” my wife assured. “We just want to know what you said.”
Lainey was defiant. She shook her head and told us she would never, ever tell.
“Where did you hear that word?” my wife asked.
“Who says that word?” I asked.
I was playing it cool, but dying to hear where that word came from. More disturbing was that she used the word so well, casually, in perfect context. Which meant she had said it several times, perhaps at school.
We had this problem before with, “Oh my God.” We told her Gosh, Goodness or even Golly, were perfect substitutes. Once Lainey was alerted to the curse word, she caught my wife and I using it, frequently. She would say, “Daddy! Don’t say that!” Then I would apologize and say Gosh ten times fast.
And now our little angel had progressed from PG-13 profanity, to straight up R.
“Did you hear me say that word?” ,y wife asked.
“Did I say it?” I added.
Lainey shook her head yes.
“Sometimes I screw up,” my wife confessed. “Get flustered and it slips out.”
“Me too. Maybe on accident,” I shrugged.
Her tears stopped and she ate. Minutes passed.
“What word was it, Lainey?” I asked. “Was it f—“
I began to make the “FFF” sound, when Lainey blurted out, “Freakin’!”
“Freakin’?” I repeated. My wife and I exchanged relieved looks.
We told Lainey that Freakin’ shouldn’t be said, since it wasn’t polite. Not quite the real F word, only the gateway. I hope she doesn’t open that door anytime soon.