Friday, September 30, 2011

Language, Please

I have a proclivity for bad language.  I have been swearing for over twenty years, some periods of my life more prolifically than others.   Even though my language tendencies are not altogether pure or even creatively colorful, I’m not one to swear without boundaries.  For instance, I find that swearing is not always welcome in certain situations, like in a job interview, or around certain people, like a police officer, especially when being pulled over for speeding.

You may think that my sub-par standards of speech mean that my children-sponges also delve into some pretty salty language when they stub a toe or choose to express their distaste when I decide to, say, serve fish for dinner.  Not so. When my kids were very small, I was careful not to utter profanity around them, because I cringe when kids swear worse than I do (Hypocrite, party of one?).  Now that they are old enough to know that some words are not for general repetition, I have become a little lax with my language.  I have told them that their fighting and bickering is bullshit, and in a weak moment, that they are pissing me the F off.  I am not proud of this, especially when I have taught them that we are not to use bullshit or the F word in everyday dialogue.

Because of my language lapses and insufficient parenting, I have not figured out how to deal with the inevitability that my children will adopt my language leanings.  How can I punish them when I am not obviously punished for my unsophisticated words?  And even though I would not be amused if I heard them using certain words, other crude talk, about bodily functions and body parts, have been known to cause me to laugh until no sound comes and I gasp for breath.  I’m like the most immature mom out here.

Recently we played the audio from the classic SNL/Alec Baldwin NPR “Schweddy Balls” skit.  My husband and I were giggling at the ridiculous dialogue, and the kids were aghast at all the inappropriate talk about balls.  Their shock and embarrassment turned to glee when they realized that because mom and dad were laughing, so could they.  Of course we didn’t stop them.

I come from a community where the adults, from time to time, gather ‘round and marvel at our children’s innocence, endearing high jinks and sweet pearls of wisdom.  “Janie said that she loved me so much, her heart was beeping!”  “Georgie put the frog in his shirt pocket so that it could be close to his heart!”  My friends’ kids are repeating Bible stories, and my kids are screaming with laughter about balls.  My daughter made up a little rhyme about balls.  They made jokes about balls.  They soon graduated to other subjects.  My howler monkeys yelled “My penis is killing me!” back and forth to each other, in between cackles.  Any genitalia can and should be called a wiener no matter who sports it, because wieners are funny.

I guess I should be grateful that my children still burst into tears when I wildly throw out the F bomb when my nerves are so jangled that my teeth are chattering.  Someday I will hypocritically have to dole out punishments or at least a stern talking-to when I hear my trucker words come right back at me from their mouths.  I can’t take back the allowances I have made for their language.  In the meantime, you will catch us all laughing together about balls, wieners and penises, as it should be.


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