I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been working and making lunches. And watching an astonishing amount of television. But the time to record a memory has come. Let’s talk about cussing.
See, a work friend told me recently that I can be tougher than one would think, and perhaps a little course. He said this with the best of intentions – it was all friendly. One of the drivers of his opinion is that I swear (more than I should, or more than one would expect).
Hear this now – I swear because my father was a priest. Full Fucking Stop.
I remember when I first learned about swearing. I was about 6 and behind our house was a parking lot…the CHURCH parking lot. It had a basketball court. The neighborhood kids would regularly come and play. They were all older. And they said “shit” every other word.
Doesn’t every kid do what I did: “Mommy, what does shit mean?”
A week later, no more basketball hoop. My mother was swift with her actions and was not about to have her daughter learning teenager vocabulary.
With the basketball court out, the swearing was left up to my dad. As a priest he reserved special right to use all parts of the English language and he was awfully colorful. “Crap” was just the beginning (not really a curse word). “Fuck” and “shit”, and their variations, were frequently invoked descriptors for music, kid behavior, NYTimes OPED pieces or parishioners.
“God damn it” however, was forbidden. He had his limits, and we did not take the Lord’s name in vain. “Damn it” was fine.
My kids like to swear. Whenever they get the chance, they like to review the list of the words they are not allowed to say, just to make sure they have it right. “Mommy, we never say God Damn It, Shit, or the big one…you know…starts with effffff and then…”
Being a parent can be hard. Watching what you say all the time, eating properly in front of your kids, being patient while reading Goodnight Moon for the 758th time, being kind even when some asshole runs a light. But we try. We try not to swear. I definitely try not to swear around the kids.
But swearing is like potato chips – hard to open the bag and eat just one – hard to compartmentalize swearing. I might try harder not to swear. Seems like the right thing to do (on a VERY long list of other right things to do).