My twin two year olds are teaching me a hell of a lot about how I speak, specifically how I use curse words. This started last weekend the YMCA of the Rockies’ pool. As I was pulling into the parking lot, I said, “Oh damn” about something—who knows—and the backseat delivered “Oh damn.” Perfect inflection, perfect intonation, perfect pace. I thought, “Shit, I better stop fucking cussing in front of them.” And then I got sad. How can my boys be old enough to talk? And how will I fully express myself without the use of my favorite punctuation?

I immediately started saying shoot instead of shit, or so I thought. A few days ago, a piece of watermelon fell on the hairy ass carpet and, without any prompt, Ryder said, “Shit.” I was horrified. Then I laughed. And then I nodded my approval. Dropping sticky fucking watermelon on the hairy ass carpet is the perfect scenario for shit. Well done, son. Well done.

The sticky fucking watermelon was part of the boys’ nightly snack. The nightly snack or ‘nack’ as my kids call it, is a family tradition. When I was a kid, mom would pile the three of us into the creaky guest room bed and hand each of us a plate with fruit, cheese and—if we were lucky—some processed carbohydrate like a Cheese-It or Triscuit. When we were really young, the plates were either white or blue plastic. As we got older and my parents’ income expanded, mom started using paper plates. Anyway, our summer nighttime tradition is play outside until about seven, go inside, have a snack and read a few books in mom’s bed before tuck-in. I let each of the boys pick a book to read in bed although there’s no fucking way they can see a single page no matter how hard they strain their eyes. But reading isn’t the point. Being excited about reading is. They love picking their bed book.

Last night, after the four hour walk up the stairs, we made it to mom’s bed. As I wrestled Ryder into his jammies, Loren walked up to me so we were eye level—I was kneeling on the floor and leaning on the bed to dress Ryder—and said, “Fuck.” I tried to mishear him. “What did you say? Frug? Frook?”

“Fuck,” he said, clear as day.

“Frug?”

“Fuck.”

“Fuck,” I thought. “No more fucking f-bombs.”

“Ok, maybe don’t say that.” I said.

After the boys went to bed, I started cataloging the way they’ve been speaking for the last four days, the exact timeframe in which they’ve become parrots. Loren often says “hmmm,” before answering a question. When we were looking for our cabin at the YMCA, I asked the boys if they saw Mimi and Papa’s car. “Hmm,” Loren said, focusing all of his attention outside of his open window and placing a little pointer finger on his chin. I about died. I do this, only my finger often pushes my lower lip into my upper. Hmm doesn’t mean I’m thinking just so you know. It’s a reflex. One I wasn’t even aware I had.

Earlier in the evening while I was giving the boys a snack sampler—piece of watermelon here, cantaloupe and cucs there—I tossed a few crackers in each of their bowls and asked them to go sit in their chairs. On his way out of the kitchen, Ryder dropped a bunny shaped cracker on the floor and said, “Hop hop down.” I about shit. That is one hundred percent something I would say. Then of course, you have to wonder why you’re teaching a child who can log and repeat something you may have said a week ago, to call a rabbit a hop hop. What the fuck is a hop hop? Sounds like a dance from the 50s or 60s. I mean come on. In first grade his teacher will ask the class which animal they want to adopt and my kid’s going to say hop hop? Come on WO-man. You’re a writer!

So I’m not only learning that I use curse words quite well (pat on the ‘ol back), I’m also learning what an idiot I sound like when I talk to my children. Humility comes in the smallest packages.