The problem boils down to simple facts: I am immature, and I find bad words funny. I have a potty mouth, I can’t seem to help it. For the most part, I am able to internalize my bad words at times when it would be inappropriate to use them. Thinking them is almost as good.
My girl did once ask me why there were so many idiots on the road when I was driving. It’s an excellent question, and I must be a good role model because she did not ask why there were so many motherfuckers.
I vividly recall the first time I heard my sainted mother drop the f-bomb. I think I was in college; I was not a wee pup. She was telling a story –on videotape - about a friend who always asked another of their friends to dance before he asked her. So one time when he got around to asking her, she turned to him and said: “fuck off!” God, I love that woman.
My parents were not prudish about language, but there were certain unspoken guidelines about what was or was not okay to say or to hear. Although we were not allowed to say “shut up” (we said “up-shut backwards”), we heard other words in movies and songs that some might consider much juicier. But just because we were allowed to watch Richard Pryor Live, and even picked up some of his catch phrases (bigger than a peanut!), we didn't have to be told that most of the language was unfit for repetition.
I try to follow reasonable guidelines when it comes to choosing media content suitable for my own children. It’s a conversation we have quite frequently with our 10 year old hip-hop aficionado. He tried to talk me into a new Black Eyed Peas song last night, but after Fergie sang the word “shit” 4 times during the 30 second itunes preview, I had to balk. He argues that just because he hears it, he will not use the word, and I am swayed because it’s a logical argument. I’ve let him download other so-called “clean” songs that are anything but if you listen between the lines. But I’m supposed to say no to outright foul language, right?
There are words I consider much worse than shit that I don't want my kids to say. I can't stand for them to say hate, or stupid, or ugly in a mean way. Ultimately, it's the intent behind the word that makes it bad. If you ask the kids, they will tell you that my favorite word is "okay" and my least favorite word is "wait".
But I am a potty mouth, and the kids are on to me. I am ashamed to admit that they’ve heard mommy’s bad words way too often. I’m asking them to do as I say, not as I do; while simultantiously negating any credibility to the argument that one should not use bad words when I clearly find them so entertaining. My failure is longstanding, it has been a force for reckoning ever since the kids were little and bad words weren’t really that bad. Like crap. One day when my boy was a preschooler, he got startled and said “That scared the crab out of me!” I asked where he had heard that expression, and he said Daddy had said it when he (boy) tried to close the toilet while he (daddy) was peeing. Shortly after that conversation, the boy saw a pile of something on the floor of my car and asked: “Who crapped in the car?” Naturally, I cracked up.
The other night I went out for a night of idiocy, and my husband planned a movie night with the kids. We had both Kit Kittredge and Wall-e on the DVR. Granted, these are not any 10 year old hip hop star’s first choice for movies, but we knew he’d get sucked in to Wall-E and we made ominous promises about war and the great depression to up the appeal of Kit Kittredge. Obviously, they watched Hancock. My girl reported: “even the kids used bad words!” This led to a discussion about whether or not I would let them be in a bad word movie, (Déjà vu). They asked if they would be allowed to star in the bad word movie if all of the bad words that anyone said were beeped out. I became temporarily entwined in an asinine conversation before I woke up and said Yes, of course they could star in the bad word movie if all the bad words than anyone said on the entire lot were replaced with resounding beeps.
Later that day, we were out driving among the idiots when someone started to back up into the place that we happened to be occupying. I hit the horn, which is always a thrill (bonus: also drowns out any rogue bad words). My girl remarked that it had been a long time since she’d heard me “ring” the horn. I corrected: you heard me “beep” the horn, honey. My boy asked: “did you say a bad word?”