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POSTED: December 25, 2013 11:30 a.m.

My house just became a much more positive place. My husband and I usually do watch what we say when my daughter is around, but now I have iron-clad proof that she is always listening, watching and, more importantly, mimicking. Now that we know this, exclaiming, “Oh, fiddlesticks!” is about the only thing that is still permissible in our family.
Last week, my husband and I were having a “debate” about something. Honestly, I don’t even remember what we were disputing — probably something along the lines of whose turn it was to empty the dishwasher, take out the trash or handle the laundry. My husband thought he was right. I, of course, knew I was right.
Because our daughter, Reese, was present, we decided to put the “debate” on hold until after she went to sleep. I picked up Reese and headed toward the bathroom to give her a bath. As I did, she pointed back over my shoulder at my husband and said, “Bye, dada!”
I may have mumbled under my breath, “Yeah, dada jerk.” OK, I probably did.
“Dada jerk?” Reese asked.
Uh oh. That was a bad idea. I didn’t even think before I said it. I looked back, hoping my husband hadn’t heard. No such luck.
“Hey — not cool!” he said.
I received a stern mini-lecture about name-calling in front of the little one. Admittedly, my husband was right. I shouldn’t have done that, and I immediately felt bad for a variety of reasons, namely because I don’t want my daughter to think her dad is actually a jerk. Also, we’d prefer it if Reese didn’t go to day care and call her classmates and teachers jerks. I’m sure we’d get a call about that.
And it doesn’t stop there. It seems I even need to watch how I talk to our dog, Abbie. Recently, our golden retriever walked through the kitchen when Reese was eating a snack in her high chair. Abbie wasn’t bothering anyone or begging for food. She stopped to get a drink out of her water bowl and Reese cried out, “Abbie, no! Abbie bad dog! Bad!”
Abbie looked up, confused, and meandered into the living room. I asked Reese, “Why is Abbie bad?” She just smiled and repeated with a laugh, “Abbie bad!”
It dawned on me that Reese has likely heard me tell Abbie she’s being a bad dog for a multitude of offenses — whining for table scraps, chasing the cat, trying to get up on the couch and barking for no apparent reason. Obviously, Reese doesn’t understand that we only call Abbie a bad dog when she’s actually doing something bad. My daughter seems to think it’s something we occasionally say to the dog for fun.
So, Abbie will enjoy semi-permanent “good dog” status, and my husband can do no wrong — at least not when Reese is around. But really, though, if saying, “jerk,” and “bad dog,” are my biggest verbal faults, I’m not doing half bad. Oops — I said bad. 

 

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