New blogger Doug Prochilo provides “colorful” advice for teaching children about cursing.
I was raised by the Princeton-educated son of Italian immigrants, a man who cursed like a drunken stevedore while admonishing me, that if I did the same, I would burn in hell for my sins. And, it was just this sort of hypocrisy that lead me to abandon Catholicism, swearing that I would never talk out both sides of my mouth like my father had done.
Instead, I would embrace foul language.
Not only did I embrace it, I got good at it. Real good. I can string expletives together like it’s my fucking J-O-B. This ability has served me well in life, earning the admiration of my friends, and the loathing of strangers in traffic.
It was all fun and games until my friends started to have children. Suddenly I was getting lots of, “Doug? Really? In front of Alec?” It was hard to remember to keep myself in check while kids were around, and I was mildly irritated that my friends were suddenly adjusting their standards. And then, I had kids, and suddenly I had a wife who was hitting me with the, “Doug? Really? In front of Rami?”
So, I made an effort. I actively tried to catch myself. It was hard. Too hard. How could I have a brand new glass go shattering on the kitchen floor without screaming “mother fucker”? Was I really expected to let an old woman cut me off on the freeway and not have the satisfaction of loudly announcing that she was “a useless old twat”? And, who made all these language rules anyway? Who decided that one word was worse than another?
I made ‘adjustments.’ I would catch myself and, if my daughter were around as the plasma TV fell off the wall, I would simply scream, “G-D Mother F-er!” It allowed me to release my frustrations without exposing my young daughter to any of these so-called taboo words. And, it went along swimmingly until she entered her elite LA pre-school. Several months into the school year I was pulled aside by the lead teacher who wanted to inform me that, “Often times when Rami drops a toy, or perhaps spills her snack, she has a tendency to just scream out, ‘Oh, F-it!’” All I could tell the teacher was that I supposed it beat the alternative and I was doing the best that I could.
With more children and age, I have improved. I no longer drop foul words into casual conversation, (“Could you please pass the fucking salt…”) However, there are certain situations that are my kryptonite: primarily, the car—my fortress of solitude—where I seemingly live in an alternate reality where I am oblivious to what’s even coming of my mouth. Until, of course, I hear a shout from the third row of seats, “Daddy, is a ‘dizzy whore’ someone who drives bad?”
And, then, there are the unfortunate accident situations—personal injury, unexpected destruction, etc. Again, here I have no self-control or personal editor. I recently was alone with my kids for a night, and scrambling to get some semblance of a meal on the table. I opened the refrigerator door too quickly and a dozen eggs fell out, splattering into a gooey mess on the floor. This caused me to drop a succession of F-bombs for every single shell that had broken. My children came running into to see what had happened, and I told them I had just broken some eggs and not to worry.
During dinner that night, my oldest (and the biggest rule follower) paused from eating her spaghetti to casually admonish me with, “You sad a bad word.”
“I know,” I replied, “I was angry.”
“You said the worst word,” she countered. “A lot.”
Now normally, I would have cowered and apologized, but this was happening on a night where I was alone with three kids and just not in the mood to suck it up. It was time for a life lesson.
So, like a mental patient, I turned to my daughter and said, “You know what? They’re just words. They mean nothing, really. Does it show a lack of self-control on my part that I used these words? Sure. But, here’s the deal: I never use bad words to hurt people. I only use them in frustration. It hurts no one accept the people that decided these are bad words. And, mark my words; you will use these words someday. And, quite frankly, I don’t care if you do.”
I was met with catatonic stares. Stares that said, I will NEVER use those words. And, to my knowledge, they haven’t.
Even when my middle daughter came to me in tears and proceeded to detail some particularly unreasonable mistreatment from her older sister, and I empowered her with, “Really? She did that? You should go tell her that was an asshole thing to do.”
My daughter was horrified. “I can’t say that.”
“I just told you that you could.”
“Well, I’m not!”
“Well, then one of us is gonna be frustrated all night; and it’s not going to be me, cause I let it all out with a few bad words.”
My daughter refrained from calling her sister “an asshole.”
While they’re all goody-goody now, I know in my heart that I am subliminally giving my children the greatest gift of all: the ability to hold their own at a professional hockey game — should need be. My work here is done.
So, go fuck yourself.
Photo of Irritated young man courtesy of Shutterstock
Drawn image courtesy of: bettyx1138