Me: "Damn. I just realized tomorrow is Ash Wednesday."
The Hub: "Ok, cool."
Me: "You know, the start of Lent*? I'm going to give up swearing."
The Hub: "Yeah, that's not going to happen."
I swear. A lot. I swear more now as a mother of two than when I was without children. It could be from the lack of sleep. It could be that my two darling daughters bring me to the brink of insanity on a regular basis. To be fair, I've always had a flare for the naughty words but I never intended to use them in front of the kids. That's just wrong, right? They are good, sweet, funny, smart, loving kids but they are just that... Kids. Kids do stupid kid things all the time. They don't listen. They challenge the rules. They don't think before they act. You know, things we did as kids. Normal kid behavior.
I find myself saying the following throughout the day:
"Don't hit your sister!"
"Clean up your Mr. Potato Head pieces before the dogs eat them!"
"Eat your peas!"
"Don't stand on the toilet seat cover, you'll break it again!"
"This is a living room, not the 'Wipe Out' show!"
"Why did you wait for me to sit down before you asked for glass of water?!"
"No, that's not good enough. Go brush your teeth again!"
"Mommy's in the bathroom, GIVE ME A MINUTE!"
At first, I add pet names to the demands. "Eat your peas, honey." "Baby, please get off the toilet seat cover." But after the umpteenth time, I start adding colorful words. I've also become more lax in my personal censoring. I let a colorful word slip when I step on a barbie shoe or burn dinner or when B drops her last clean binkie on the grocery store floor half way through my shopping trip. It didn't seem to be a big problem until my kids started using colorful words, too. And not just saying them. Actually using them in the correct context. Here are my two favorite examples:
Almost 3 years ago, I was driving my first daughter, S, to daycare. I was working and was very pregnant with my second daughter, B. Because I knew there was no way I could fit both kids in the back of my Mustang GT convertible, I decided to sell it. I kept that baby spotless and placed a For Sale sign in the back window. While sitting at a red light, a big white service van cut the corner way too close and missed my fender by a hair. In a moment of pure terror, I yelled out, "Holy [fecal matter] you [F-bomber]!" Then, from the back seat, I hear a sweet little voice cry out, "Yeah, you [F-bomber]!" I could feel the blood drain out of my face. Here we are, less than a minute from the daycare and my sweet little girl dropped the F-Bomb. I panicked. S is a smart girl and loved to share any and all new knowledge with her teacher and classmates. I immediately went into full damage control mode:
Me: "Oh no, baby girl! I am so sorry! Mommy said a very bad word and I was wrong. Please don't say that bad word again."
S: "But, Mommy, he almost hit your pretty car! He IS a [F-bomber]."
The other example happened not too long ago. B dropped her binkie. She looked down and muttered, "Oh [fecal matter]!" I ignored it because I did not want to make it seem like a big deal. Anyone who knows B knows she enjoys the naughtier side of life. She does not take "no" for an answer but more as a challenge. If I made that colorful word sound like it's dangerous and forbidden, she would use it more often. So instead of correcting her directly, I try to correct myself around her. I make a point to say, "Ah nuts!" when I drop stuff, especially in her presence. I say it has a 75% success rate. The other 25%, I have to apologize to our company and assure them I am not raising a sailor on purpose.
When I was a little girl, my family lived next to a sweet elderly couple in Knox, PA. One beautiful afternoon, they held a neighborhood tea party on their back porch. All the kids on my street came over and ate cookies. While sitting at the table, a fly buzzed my head several times. I waved my arms around and said, "Ah, that damn fly!" All the kids gasped. "Don't say that, Terese! That's a BAD word. Say 'darn fly' instead!" At the time, I had no idea that "damn" was a bad word. It was just a word. It did not hold meaning other than it went well with my frustration. Once I was told of its evil connotation, it became a powerful word. I also began to recognize other "bad words." They were short, simple words with strong emotion behind them. Sometimes, they were funny. I was told not to use them... but I did and still do. Maybe that's where B gets her fascination with the dangerous, naughty side of life.
I'm sure everyone can remember the first time they recognized colorful language, whether they heard it from a parent, an uncle, the older next door neighbor kid, or if you lived anywhere in the New England area. I'm also pretty sure many of you have a favorite colorful word... Your go-to word when no other word will do.
So, what is your favorite colorful word?
I can't tell you mine... not for another 40 days.
*Lent is one of few Catholic traditions I still actively follow. As my sister, J, says... I'm Catholic Lite.