Friday, June 12, 2009

bad words

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?”


The Blue Ridge Gal said...

I believe in free speech and get a bit potty mouth too at times... in fact my daughter used to call me on it when she was in grade school and ask me not to talk that way. Okay, so I raised a prude. I tried hard not to. LOL

The Blue Ridge Gal

Pickles and Dimes said...

It's amazing what's on TV shows nowadays for language, even the ones that are on at 7:00 p.m.!

I'm a potty mouth and I don't have kids, but that bugs me.

When I was growing up, we weren't allowed to swear, and to my dismay, my mom considered my favorite word (frick) to be a swear word.

trying to keep it clean in Central PA said...

I love when this blog is so validating, as my kids like to think they are the ONLY ones with a mother like me :-)

I don't happen to have a potty mouth but can occasionally make my point with an added "bad word" for emphasis but...
"shut-up", "hate" and "loser" have always been bad words in our house.
YEAH...I can show them that they are bad words even in far away San Diego!! Thank-you Thank-you. Hurtful words ARE bad words but it's hard to compete with all the other bad words that swarm my 14, 11 and 8 yr old's world. But it doesn't hurt to try.
One day I'll have to blog about the fiasco that ensued when our "sh" word and "h" word were different than those of the older kids on the playground

mom said...

I love this Jacquie. When you use the f word (see I still don't say it!) with an Irish brogue, it comes out "fook" - very acceptable mom

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Aw shit balls muthah-humpah. It's so fun to swear, especially in front of other peoples' kids. Especially when you know you're leaving said kids' homestead in a week or two.....

I love to watch the progression of the kids being entirely clueless, then scandalized, then mad, then wanting to get in on the bad word fun.

I really love that when you "ring" your horn, your boy thinks you're self-censoring.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Ah, Jacquie, I love this post and think about this subject quite a lot. I have a potty mouth, which I do a fair job of keeping under control around the girls, but, who am I kidding, the "bad" words slip out sometimes. And honestly, I think it's okay.

My father swore when I was growing up, but I did not. It was not allowed to. This didn't seem that strange to me, as I was also not allowed to smoke or drink, or go to adult parties, etc. You get to do the fun stuff when you grow up, that's just how it is. Until then you suck it up and try to get away with stuff, no?

T and I were just talking about this whole subject this morning, he was patting himself on the back for never having used a cuss word while communicating with the girls. He had to re-evaluate a bit when I pointed out that just because he is on his cell phone with another adult dropping the f-bomb, does not mean that he is invisible and the kids can't hear him :-)

Ellie, when are you coming back to corrupt my children? I'll have children in 3 of the 4 bad word categories you point out above...


Lola said...

Well, I, for one, never swear ;)

Yeah, yeah, I'm the worst. My kid just laughs at me, and then I tell him never to repeat that in school or around any other kids' parents.

On the giant list of things that I don't want him to do, swearing is very low on the list. They're just words, and they will hear them everywhere, and they will use them from time to time. I'm much more concerned with him being a compassionate, open-minded person.

Aunt Becky said...

I was always allowed to swear so long as I didn't do it in public. Didn't help, I guess, that my mother swore like a sailor. No joke, my first word was the eff-word.

Kathi D said...

My upright church-going Southern Baptist mama washed my mouth with soap (I never knew she actually meant it) for calling my brother Bob "stupid" once. Later on, she taught my toddler nephew to shout "jackass" at the idiots on the road. Not on purpose, though.

A friend was confused when his 4-year-old used the "f" word for the first time. He didn't want him to repeat it, yet he was a little proud that he used it correctly, in the right context and all.

Liz said...

Fook'n a, Jac!

aussiechic said...

hahaha now Aussie's have potty mouths as you call it - we would say the mouth of a truck sister has the worst mouth ever and after talking to her I slip right back to it and my husband looks at me in horror as I call some twit who particularly annoys me a "fuck-knuckle" of our fav terms to describe a particularly obnoxious wanker....:))

But I do try and be good......

Kate said...

Words are only words and we are the ones that give them the power. When I was growing up we were allowed to swear as long as we weren't swearing AT anyone. On the other hand in my classroom my kids think the "s" word is stupid or shut up and they know they will get in trouble for using those words.

Kate said...

Words are only words and we are the ones that give them the power. When I was growing up we were allowed to swear as long as we weren't swearing AT anyone. On the other hand in my classroom my kids think the "s" word is stupid or shut up and they know they will get in trouble for using those words.