"Oh shit!!!" 8 year old L muttered from his desk last Friday. I was surprised to hear the words in my classroom of first graders. It is probably the first time any profanity other than "stupid" has come up thus far this year. In all honesty, my first reaction was to laugh.
I knew I had a choice: react, or seem nonchalant.
I had my back turned to the groupings of desks, so I just called out "Be careful with your words." The kids were all engaged in various morning duties: breakfast, writing, reading, creating, and giggling. L looked at me with shifty eyes, trying to decide what his best excuse should be. In between glances at me, he looked down to his finger that he was delicately holding with the opposite hand. I rotated throughout the room, performing my normal duties and carrying on various conversations with other students. I didn't want everyone to know I was heading over to L. Eventually, I made my way over to the conciencious, loving, and by now, nervous kid.
I gently whispered in his ear, "Is your finger okay?" He nods.
"You know we can't say words like that at school, right?" He nods.
"Okay, I just wanted to check with you." He nods. Looks at finger. Looks at me with uncertain grin.
I am sure his instant reaction to his finger getting smashed is in large part due to hearing similar reactions at home.
This shouldn't really be a funny story if you think about it, but it really is. Human nature and what we model for kids is pretty fascinating stuff.