Lessons of a Shart
So my daughters are jumping on their beds the other night. Yeah, I know, probably not a good idea to allow them to jump on their beds, right? No judgment! Resist the temptation of thinking I’m some horrible parent because I let them do this. Their beds are low to the ground and I’m through battling them over it, since they constantly do it regardless of threats or actual punishment, so each night they get five parentally-monitored jumps before lights out. We’ve only had one head bump in two years of big girl beds. So far so good. Anyway, they’re jumping and giggling when all of a sudden, A stops and says, “Oh Mommy, a little poop just flew out of my butt!” She looked mortified, as this was clearly unexpected. She immediately got down from her bed and ran to the bathroom and yelled, “I thought I was farting, but some poop flew out into my panties! Mommy, what’s that called? What just happened? What is it?” I gotta admit, I was cracking up. Daddy was in Chicago, it had been a really long day already and my mind was mush. For that moment, I forgot I was talking to a five-year-old and blurted out the first thing that popped into my head. “A,” I yelled back, “don’t even worry about it, you just sharted, that’s all.” Well, D heard the word for all of one second and starts jumping wildly on her bed, shouting with sheer glee over and over again “A sharted!” “A sharted!” “A sharted!” Oy. What have I done?
There comes a time in every parent’s life when they don’t think before they speak. I was tired and annoyed and it was past bedtime and I thought I was down the home stretch with the five jumps then lights out routine coming to a close and then next thing I know, A’s got a shart in her pretty, little flower panties and bedtime is prolonged. I went into the bathroom and A is wiping her tush repeatedly. Apparently, the shart made her very uncomfortable and grossed-out. Understandably so! She looked-up and said, “Why is it called a shart?” Yikes. Ugh. Okay, okay, okay … think Poopie. How are you gonna explain your way out of this one? I couldn’t very well tell her it’s a lovely hybrid of the word “shit” and “fart.” Thankfully, I was quicker on my feet the second go around and I said, “It’s a combination of the words “shtinky and fart.” “Oh,” she smiled, “That’s funny. Have you or Daddy ever sharted?” I’m dying inside of course. It’s hilarious. But at least she bought it. I wanted to make her feel better and realize that even grown-ups lose control of their bowels from time to time so I said, “Absolutely honey. I’ve sharted before, and Daddy, well he sharts all the time. He’s extra shtinky.” I couldn’t resist. It was too fun at this point. Meanwhile, D is still cracking up repeating her new shart mantra in the other room. Great, I thought to myself, now I can take the blame as worst mother of the year when my precious four-year-old daughter shows-up at preschool tomorrow and teaches all the other little kids how to say “shart.” I’m sure all the other parents will really appreciate my introducing this scatological gem into their toddler’s lexicons. Wait to go, Mommy.
After the little jumping incident was “wiped-away” and, er, explained, the girls got into bed and peace and calm were restored. I read them another book to ensure quietness and then they went to bed. Or so I thought. All was quiet for about fifteen minutes. I was downstairs ready to indulge in my weekly crack (aka The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills—a reality show that no doubt lessens my intelligence quotient, but I still crave nonetheless) when I hear chanting coming from upstairs. Yep, you guessed it. D was at it again. “A sharted!” “A sharted!” It went on and on. I went up there and said quite sternly in my most intimidating voice that it was way past bedtime and if they wanted to have their scheduled playdate at the park with their pals the following day (this mild winter has been amazing!!!) then they’d better pipe down, close their eyes and fall asleep. This did the trick and the chanting ceased immediately. And, thankfully, did not occur for the remainder of the night. But when I went downstairs, it really got me thinking: Am I so horrible that I taught my kids a naughty word? Is this totally inexcusable? I mean, what kind of a mom am I? Shouldn’t I have just said it’s poop? A said she thought she was just passing gas, so I go ahead and tell it like it is and now I’m having honesty remorse (again). I should’ve made something up. But I didn’t. And now I’m torturing myself over it and worrying that the girls will pass this lovely word onto to their friends.
Luckily, the self-induced torture didn’t last long. Why? Well, for one thing because the more I thought about it, the more it seemed pretty hilarious to me. But mainly, because I reminded myself what I’m always reminding you: life is too short! Big freakin’ deal. My kid sharted and I told her what it was. So sue me. Man, I never realized how conditioned I am to worrying about what someone else might think if they got wind (no pun intended!) of what I said to my five-year-old daughter when she asked me what just came out of her tush! We can’t always censor ourselves twenty-four hours a day and shield our kids from every last grown-up thing around them. I’m pretty damn good at protecting my kids from all the harmful crap out there (again, no pun intended!) that they could be exposed to if I weren’t so careful and tuned-in. What’s the worst thing that could happen if A and D learn what a shart is? It’s not as though I said the real curse word form of it anyway. Jeez, Meredith, I thought, give yourself a break! You’re a really good Mom and you’re beating yourself up over accidentally saying the word “shart?” WTF? I began to actually get mad at myself that I’d already wasted energy and time mulling the consequences of my actions over and over again in my head. You said it. It’s out there. They know it. Move on.
And so I did. And you know what? Neither of my children have even mentioned the word again since the other night when the darn thing happened in the first place. My silly fear of getting a phone call about how D was chanting “shart” at school in front of everyone never came to fruition. And you know what? Even if it did, so what? I would deal with it. I would’ve apologized and that would be that. Why do we moms feel we need to be superhuman? It’s an impossible standard to uphold and would actually be detrimental to our children, as they would feel compelled to live up to something that wouldn’t even be achievable anyway. No one is perfect all the time—especially me. And it’s all these imperfections that teach me the greatest lessons…and often provide me with the best laughs! Which of course is what happened the next day on our playdate at the park when I retold this “shart” story to my friend and she was dying with laughter.
Not every mistake we make along the way will result in grave or dire consequences. Just because D and A were introduced spontaneously to the word “shart” doesn’t mean that either of them will grow-up to be foul-mouthed, disrespectful people. Puh-leeze. I’m once again amazed at how instantly my reaction was to worry about something so insignificant in the bigger scheme of life and instead should have only been relishing in how funny it actually was and lighten-up about the whole situation…because IT WAS FUNNY. Yep, newsflash, WE ARE ALLOWED TO BE FUNNY. REALLY FUNNY IS EVEN BETTER. This job, this thing we do – parenting – has a lot of heavy, serious moments to it and I say it’s about damn time we tell ourselves it’s way more important to crack-up about a “shart” then be mortified and disgusted and upset about it. I, personally, think that reaction is way more damaging and harmful to our kids, because as I’ve stated over and over again, they are the world’s most astute observers and if you’re constantly in a state of worry or self-judgment or concern, they will take notice and become little neurotic worriers themselves. I would much rather raise the kid that finds the shart hilarious then the kid who flips out and can’t see the humor in any situation. By my matter-of-factly explaining to A what it was and by reassuring her that everyone, even her mom and dad, have done it too, the incident wasn’t even an incident. She was ashamed about it for a second and then when I told her simply what it was and that everyone has “sharted” before, she felt relieved and even found the name funny. How can making my kid feel better be bad?