I know that my mom often says “Damn it!” (gently) when she drops things or makes a mistake. I’m not sure I remember it from my childhood though, and certainly didn’t realize I picked up the habit myself until my older son was almost 4 years old. I must have been alone with the boys; my younger one was near me on the floor with some books or toys and I was in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner when I heard a small crash in the bathroom followed by a little voice saying “Damn it!”

I hesitated, a bit surprised, and couldn’t help but smile before I walked to the bathroom.

“Is everything okay?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he answered, “but my toothbrush fell.” It certainly had. There was toothpaste all over the floor.

“So let’s clean it up,” and I continued with, “What did you say when it fell?” He looked at me and I could see the wheels turning – very quickly – when he replied “Damaged! I said that my toothbrush was damaged because it fell and all the toothpaste came off.” He gauged my expression and added “Thanks for helping me clean it up, Mommy.”

Once he was all set for bed, I read a book to the two of them and I’m pretty sure it was one of our Berenstein Bear books about something somehow related to the “incident” in the bathroom. Lullabies later, they were fast asleep and I felt proud – proud of my parenting and in love with my children, even though my clever preschooler said “Damn it!”