Newsflash (not really): I have a mouth like a sailor.

It’s only fitting. Mom used to dress me like this:

Kidding. That’s not me. That’s Shirley Temple. I didn’t have golden curls and a sailor suit. I had a mullet and a sweatshirt that said Pop Music.

I also had genie pants and an acid wash jean jacket with brown leather fringes. But no sailor suit. Reason enough to develop a mouth like a pirate, all the same. Mom, how in the fucken fuck of fuck town could this look have been remotely attractive? I declare aesthetic child abuse.

Or maybe my sailor mouth is on account of my growing up in a Newfoundland outport, with the Atlantic Ocean licking at my bedroom window. You know, the ocean – where sailors sail. Yeah, let’s go with that. A scene from my oceanside playground:

Fuck it’s cold, Barbie said to Ken.

I know, Barbie, I can tell by the topography of your sweater.

Ha ha. Oh, Ken, you sure know how to make a bitch laugh.

Let’s go out in punt and get jiggy.

But I’m a mother now. And dog gone it, I’ve curbed my cursing significantly. But it’s a daily challenge. Think about it. How do you shield a toddler from the devil’s diction when the toddler is the one precipitating the profanity?

The list of swear-inducing scenarios is infinite, but for demonstrative purposes they can all be crystallized into one all-too-common occurrence we’ll call Juice Box Bedlam. You know what I’m talking about, parents of wacky wee ones. What does every little kid do when handed a juice box? They squeeze it. Which would be okay… if the straw was in their mother bloggin’ mouth! Juice goes everywhere. In their hair, their eye, in every nut and bolt of the car-seat and stroller. Once, when putting on Max’s pyjamas, I couldn’t get him to lift his arm because his armpit was stuck together with apple juice.

Juice Box Bedlam warrants an f-bomb, at least under the breath.

We’ve been lucky so far though. Max’s vocabulary has been growing exponentially, but it’s a good-as-gold jambalaya of nouns and verbs and adjectives.

He has a hard time with his “f” words, pronouncing them as “d” words. “Four” and “five” are “door” and “dive.” “Fork” is “dork.” (When he asks for a fork, I push his father toward him.) But thankfully, it doesn’t work in reverse. A “duck” is a “duck.” Phew.

Every word has been pure and clean and innocent. Until today.

We were out shopping, waiting for daddy in the parking lot of a sports store. It was almost naptime, but Max was pleasant, sitting quietly in his car-seat. All of a sudden, he calmly uttered something from the backseat.

What the how.

He repeated it several times. What the how. What the how…

I looked back, trying not to look too surprised or amused. What did you say, buddy?

He smirked. That irresistibly mischievous smirk that says I know I’m doing something I’m not supposed to do and that’s why it feels so goooooooood.

Funny how you don’t even realize your own pet sayings until you hear them from the mouth of your parrot boy. Apparently I say “what the hell” a lot. A whole lot. And Max clearly has ears and a mind like Sponge Bob Square Pants.

But hey, it could have been so much worse, right? If he was gonna pick up a phrase from my repertoire, that was a dang good choice. Just enough bad to be funny. In fact, when Andrew got back in the car I had to resist the urge to get Max to say it one more time for his father’s enjoyment.

God, kids are frickin’ amusing, aren’t they? What the hell, maybe I’ll have one more. Bah! What the hell am I saying? Having kids is way too hard on the ol’ juice box.