blog:Darned fluffin’ right it does
Vail CO, Colorado
I love to curse. And I mean love. L-O-V-E. I curse when I’m angry (hello, roundabouts and idiot drivers!), I curse when I’m happy (“This is the best *bleepin* steak!”). I’ve always liked to pepper my conversation with these little nuggets, like exclamation points thrown in for emphasis.
I’ve probably offended more people than I can count, or at least shocked them. It’s a problem, I know.
My four year old son has the same problem.
This was pointed out to me by my mother-in-law a few weeks ago. She quietly took me aside to voice her concerns.
“I’ve noticed that Cade has…” Her face was darkly serious. “…well, he has a potty mouth. You and David need to watch what you say in front of him more carefully. You know how he copies everyone…”
My own mother agreed.
“Too much bad words. Not proper for small boy.”
This from a woman who curses more than any sailor I know? (Not that I actually know any sailors, but you get the point.) Granted, my mother would only curse in her native Korean and never in broken English, but did that make it any better?
“What happen when he start school? All mothers hate you, Cade have no friends.”
Ouch. Point taken.
So I tried to stop cursing. Cold turkey. Full speed ahead, all the cry-babies below decks.
I lasted for two whole hours, until I dropped an apple that I’d been peeling on the kitchen floor and the dog immediately pounced on it. Yuck.
“Damn, damn, damn!” Cade sang, gleefully clapping along with the words.
So on to Plan B.
I made a list, giving new names to all the bad words in my repertoire. Sh*t = Shoot. Damn = Darn. And so on. This seemed to work. Cade had no interest in mimicking words that were so normal, that didn’t have the spice that the curse words possessed. Problem solved, it seemed.
And then I realized how bad even normal words can seem. We were on the way home from the grocery store and my one year old started screaming from the confines of his car seat. He was tired and hungry, and hell”I have the same reaction after spending two hours wandering the aisles of City Market. Cade, who usually suffers his brother’s cries with good humor, was also at the end of his rope.
“Jacob, shut the fluff up!”
“Cade, you shouldn’t say that word.”
“Why? It’s not a bad word.”
“Because it just doesn’t sound right. People don’t like to hear those words.”
“But you say them.”
You got me there, kid.
We were parked safely in our driveway by then, and I turned around to look at him.
“But I’m a grown-up. I am allowed to say whatever I want because I am an adult.”
“Can I say bad words when I’m a grown-up?”
“Yes. When you’re all grown up, you can do whatever you want. But you can’t say them right now, since you’re only a kid. Deal?”
Ah. Disaster averted. Or was it?
After an entire week of saying no curse words, Cade cuddled up next to me on the couch.
“Mom, I have a secret to tell you.” He whispered in my ear.
“You won’t get mad?”
“Nope. What’s your secret?”
“You have to promise you won’t get mad at me.”
“Cade. Tell me what it is.”
“Before I go sleep at night, I say all the bad words I’m not supposed to say. But no one can hear me since I’m in bed by myself. I just can’t wait till I’m a grown-up.” His face was guilty and troubled. “Is that okay?”
I had to fight back the urge to shriek with hysterical laughter. My oldest son was baring his demons to me. The least I could do was keep my game face on.
“Well…” I put my arm around his shoulders and pulled him close. He smelled like sunscreen. “I guess that if you really need to say those bad words, when you’re in bed by yourself is the best place to do it. But only when you’re alone. Got it?”
Cade seemed satisfied with the answer. And so was I. Our little problem was now under control and everyone was happy. Doesn’t that count as a success?
Darned fluffin’ right it does.