Correction. I'm a Probationary Bad Parent.
I'm not officially a Bad Parent because there is no registry for it. Not yet. But give it time. And once it's instituted, there's an application for my admittance waiting to be processed. Submitted by a Good Parent, of course.
I know I'm on the Bad Parent Watch List because a Good Parent told me yesterday.
"I need to talk to you about something, and I don't want you to take offense. Okay?" he said to me, in a hushed voice. I looked around. We were alone.
"You know how we were over for dinner the other day, and you called someone a dumbass?"
"I called Charlie Sheen a dumbass," I said. "But only because he was." I frowned. "Is."
"Well, yesterday, Marvin was in the playroom, and I heard him call one of his toy trucks a dumbass."
He then pursed his lips and stared at me with a look of shock. Because this was my fault.
I sat down (did I fail to mention that I was standing? We were both standing) For a moment, I let it sink in. "Did you talk to him?" I asked. "I mean, he should never call a truck a dumbass."
He sat down, nodding. "I know. We had a long discussion. I said --"
"Because," I said, still demonstrating that concern was figuratively bubbling out of my pores, "a truck is an inanimate object."
"What does that have to do--"
"Maybe he was calling the driver of the toy truck a dumbass? That would make more sense."
"I think you're missing the--"
"What exactly did the driver of the truck do, anyway?"
"What? Nothing. I mean -"
"Nothing? Really? Okay, maybe you need to teach Marvin about context. Did you cover that in your discussion?"
Actually, this went on for a little bit more because, as most Good Parents are, he was oblivious to sarcasm. But we were interrupted by his wife, who had just come out of the john. Judging by the look of consternation on her face, as she abruptly said it was time to leave, I think this whole thing was orchestrated by her. I'll cough, and excuse myself to go to the bathroom. That's when you confront him and his potty mouth. Or else she was constipated. They make equal sense.
That was how we left it, with the hanging accusation that my sailor's mouth had somehow perverted their darling boy. Myself, I looked at it differently: Marvin is in for a rough ride, if his parents are having apoplectic convulsions over the word 'dumbass.' I have several arguments, and I presented them rationally and concisely to Marvin and his wife. In my own head, that is. At least I win arguments in my head. Those arguments were:
Dumbass isn't even a dirty word. It's a dumb word, coined by a prime time TV show That 70s Show, which is all about dumbass kids. The term was coined by the television father. It's a pejorative term meant to be used by parents in reference to their kids. Applying it to Charlie Sheen, who has yet to grow up, seems quite reasonable. Apropos would be another term that comes to mind.
You'll never pin it on me. There's no smoking gun. The term 'dumbass' is used by millions of people in all walks of life. It's not so rare a term that Marvin's parents could trace it back to me as the source. If they're worried about their kid hearing the word "dumbass", they should also bubble wrap and stuff him into a closet where he won't be exposed to other potty words like sucktard or douchebag,
Baby's first words and all that. As parents, they are missing out on one of the most precious moments of toddlerhood. Example: when Bennett was two and half years old, he was having a bath. Natalie walked in to bathroom, sat on the toilet and started unravelling the toilet paper at jet speed. Joanna leapt up to stop her and, doing so, lost her footing, and fell ass over teakettle into me, whereupon I dropped the People Magazine I was reading into the bathtub. Bennett stood up in the middle of the bath, bare naked, dripping water, surveyed the hullaballoo and said, with a straight face, "What the fuh?"
To Marvin's parents, this would have been a wonderful opportunity to sit down with their toddler, perhaps over a cup of warm milk and laxatives, and have a mature discussion of how one should never use the term "fuh" in polite company. Joanna and I, being bad parents, took this as a wonderful opportunity to climb over top of each other to get out of the bathroom as fast as we could, lest we collapse in hysterical laughter in front of Bennett, thereby guaranteeing that he would be saying What The Fuh at every opportunity after that.
I guess that's the difference between good and bad parents, though.