Dorks, we stick together.
You’ve seen us at the same table at lunch. With the Star Wars lunch boxes and Pac-man T-shirts. We’re not outcasts. Ours is the cool table. You might not not have known that.
We embrace the dorkiness.
Today’s guest poster says she lives the life of a dork. And by dork, she means artistic, expressive, and quirky. Sheena writes the blog Not a Punk Rocker, where she chronicles a life embarrassing her child and blogging the hell out of it.
She writes about eating disorders, parenthood and even fields questions from readers. Today, she brings her cool writing style to the CD to talk about one of my favorite subjects – kid swearing.
Let’s give Sheena a warm welcome, and be sure to check out her stuff.
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“Is that a gasser, Mom?”
That is the inquiry I got from the kid, aged 4, from his spot in the backseat of the car. The question came after I had just hit the brakes and the horn at a driver who had apparently forgotten the rules of the road since his original foray into the DMV one hundred years ago. I had no idea what the kid was talking about and asked him to repeat his question.
“A gasser,” he tried to explain in his sweet little voice, “when you get mad and say ‘you gasser’ at cars.”
Oh dear. Oh no. Oh my. Oh *bleep*.
My sweet, darling, baby boy was saying gasser, but he meant another word. One I used frequently on the road to vent my frustration. A word that began with b, ended in d, and is a derogatory term for a person of who may not know who is responsible for their paternity.
Saying certain words has been second nature to me for as long as I could remember, having grown up hearing my parents using such colorful language. Those words you wouldn’t normally repeat in front of your teacher or pastor got used as verbs, nouns, adjectives and interjections almost daily. My childhood was the “SchoolhouseRock!” of swearing. Luckily, I knew better than to use these words at school, church or where my parents could hear.
I thought I had been doing a good job about shielding the kid from my normal barrage of curses. He hadn’t pulled any of these words out of his vocabulary before. No reports from preschool or stares from the T-ball moms because he spoke like a member of the original “Bad News Bears.” “Do as I say and not as you hear” had worked so far, yet now I had to be more diligent. More importantly, I had to keep him from saying that again, especially around the grandparents.
I explained, calmly (I think), that was a grown-up word and that he shouldn’t say it. Then I turned up the music so he could sing along to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (it was a song without cursing, I promise). Well handled. I gave myself a pat on the back. Good job on the momming.
Of course, trying to temper my language didn’t last long. I didn’t go out of my way to curse for the hell of it (Ha! See what I did there!) but things still slipped out, especially with stress and frustration. For years after the “gasser” incident, he would correct me if he heard me say something “bad.” He also didn’t use those words, not even for shock value. I guess if he had we would have talked about it, but there was only so much punishment I could dole out for cursing. I have been told by my ex-husband that I curse more than his shipmates in the Navy. While I am the parent and have to help mold the kid, who was I to judge some salty language here and there?
Now, the kid is 17. He is gentle with animals, volunteers on weekends, is a gentleman with his girlfriend and gives me a hug every morning when I leave for work and at night before bed. Yet, when he gets on that magic xBox, all bets are off. The kid will let out a litany of words I have never thought to string together, whether he is building things in MineCraft or shooting zombies in some other game. He is likely to leave home soon, so I choose to ignore most of the words that come out of his mouth in this setting (though there have been a few times I have asked him “really?” over a particularly creative remark). He won’t swear at school or offline, doesn’t curse or backtalk me (other than mild sarcasm…where does he get that from?). Overall, I think the battle is one not worth fighting.
Who knows…maybe he will end up working as a stand-up comedian or a longshoreman*. Then his colorful language will come in handy and it can all tie back to how I raised him. Yay! Off to give myself another pat on the back!
*No offense to any stand-up comedians or longshoremen. I am sure you don’t all curse like sailors**.
**No offense to sailors either.
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