I hold the title of being the person responsible for someone else's sweet little innocent boy saying the F-word for the first time. No, not "fat" or "fart". The actual F-word.

In my defence, my own almost two-year-old boy had been running towards a busy road. You're still allowed to smack them for that, I believe, if they are in danger. So surely a little four-letter word is allowed.

Still, it was terrible and thankfully my friend found it funny and her husband, when informed, was only upset about missing the milestone.

It wasn't the first time I've wrecked a child's innocence, but at least that first time the child was my own ...


Picture this: An 18-month old girl, frilly pink swimsuit and wet hair, big blue eyes with eyelashes you could sweep a floor with, excited to be in her weekly swimming class.

The group were told to hold the steel rail at the side of the pool and parents were to leave them until they went under the water, to show them what would happen when they let go.

My daughter tried to climb out. She almost succeeded but it was slippery. Fighting it, she slowly slid back down in to the water and as she did, she exhaled, uttering a quiet but very clear "sh******t".

Everyone was in hysterics. Except me. I was in denial, hoping she was saying another word. Later, when we got home, she dropped her bottle. It rolled under her high chair and out it came again, no mistaking it: "S**t."

Knowing I might have more luck trying to change my habit rather than trying to quit completely, I spent a week or so dropping things deliberately in front of her and saying "Oops. Shoot" and "Oops. Shivers" which she picked up quickly.

Some weeks later, my husband - who always tells me to "stop swearing" - came to me holding our daughter and said: "You tell Mumma what you just said to me."

I tensed. I knew from his tone what was coming.

She looked at me and growled words similar to "Trucking stupid". She hadn't been able to make the remote turn the TV on. It WAS trucking stupid.

But there is nothing quite as ugly as hearing those words, correctly used with your exact tone, by your tiny, pure, innocent baby. And knowing it's no one's fault but your own.

I go through phases of doing well to omit the expletives, but they do creep back in. I'm not sure what to do to stop it (tips welcome). I do have our girl on the case though, and she does love to pull me in to line: The other day, out of nowhere, my now four-year-old looked up and said sweetly: "We don't say s**t, do we?"

No, darling. No we don't.