Installing the filter.

As I mention in the byline for this blog, my kids did not come with a manual. I was led to believe that there would be a manual. It didn’t have to be comprehensive, but you have “What to expect when you’re expecting” to get you through the pregnancy, so why isn’t there a “Well, now you’re F@$ked!” for the rearing years?

At any rate, I have been learning by doing. Some things are intuitive, some it helps to have a spouse who is the eldest of several. Still others, we’re learning together. A recent example of this is how to install the filter between your son’s brain and his mouth.

What was it Bill Cosby said? (Besides his dislike for Trump, which I commend him for.) Oh yeah, kids say the damnedest things. This is one of those learn by doing examples.

If anyone ever writes an all encompassing manual for raising children, this section needs to come immediately after the “so, they’ve learned to talk” section. About age two, really. They’ve gotten past calling everything they see “blue,” and are slowly progressing into the embarrassing their parents phase. For us, it started with “penis.”

We were (perhaps mistakenly) factual, albeit simple, with the boys about what separates boys from girls. Boys have penises, girls don’t. This led to a host of other uncomfortable questions, unfortunate trips to the bathroom for my wife and some prize worthy conversation points (usually in restaurants). C conducted surveys of who in the house had a penis. M asked random strangers in the grocery store if they had one. It was awesome.

It’s not long after this phase begins that parents should be sternly warned not to speak in front of their children about, well, anything. Your opinions will be rebroadcast with impunity. Nothing is spared and you will adapt to holding your breath every time they open their mouth in public. It’s cute. I suppose.

The filter, I thought, may have been a native option, pre-installed, just needing to warm up to being used. Either this is untrue, or we opted for the wrong options package in ours. The filter remains missing.

We have grown accustomed to some level of rebroadcast and have learned to mind our tongues on others. Spelling no longer works. Other things we routinely re-emphasize, the rudeness of talking about penises in public, etc. Some things, though, slip right on past the growing filter and out of their mouths.

This was made abundantly clear this past Saturday. Boston finally saw some warm weather and the boys were availing themselves of outdoor playtime. We had already done Karate and soccer that morning, so I was “resting” on the couch. Next thing I know, someone (an adult) is yelling outside about getting someone’s mother. My immediate hope is that this is solely directed at the neighbor’s son, but alas, I cannot be sure. I run to the front door to witness the mailman standing in the middle of the street yelling at, yes, the neighbor’s son, but also my own. It appears that they each welcomed him out of his truck with “Hey, Fatty!”

Now, it is true, genetics has sought to keep this man extra warm and it being early Spring, he had not yet shed these extra layers of insulation. But, this was a first for M. Even C looked horrified as he explained to me what had happened. (The mailman had stormed away and M had immediately blamed his brother.) I knew the truth of it when the neighbor’s son ran home without being told and M burst into tears on the sidewalk. Talk about filter failure.

Several long conversations about hurting people’s feelings, not saying mean things, and the fact that even Mr. Rude (who indeed does call a woman “Fatty” in his book) turned nice (except for burping) ensued. I am now terrified by what might (or has already) come out of his mouth at school with his friends or, god forbid, his teacher. Whether he meant to be mean, or simply thought it was funny, this was really upsetting.

Any parents have advice on how to secure this filter in place?

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