Every parent with a kid in school has this moment. When you open the kid’s homework folder or your email and you see a note/message from your child’s teacher titled “Language.” It happened this last week… when I opened my email and there it was, a letter from Sophia Tempee’s teacher titled “Language.” My first response, said out loud, mind you, was “Well, shit.”
My mind is going to horrible places. I’m an attorney. I swear they teach us curse words in law school. I don’t recall signing up for that particular class, but when I graduated I could have made a sailor blush. I’ve toned it down because, well, for some reason I am expected to go out into public and interact on a professional level. (Who EVER thought THAT was a good idea needs to be shot.) However, it is still there, and it comes out when I’m tired and frustrated. Low and behold, around my kids, I’m tired and frustrated a LOT. Because three kids… full time job… gobs of debt… and life.
But I don’t hate that I curse. In fact, I’m pretty okay with it. I love Jesus… but I swear a little and he’s okay with it. Why? Because what matters to him is how I treat his children, how I act… and I may swear a little, but I’m a good person. Deep inside. deeeeeeeeeep inside. Somewhere. I’m sure.
Also, as an anthropology major, I got in some serious studying in linguistics and the history of the the morphology of language. So, I get REAL ticked at people who go off of me for the use of curse words. Why? Well, this is 2015 and America. Curse words are a part of our dialect. What curse words you use depends heavily on the place you live, where you grew up, all that good stuff. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
And no, your use of language doesn’t depend on your parents, how you were raised, what your faith says, or what you heard as a little kid in your home unless you never went anywhere. Your friends teach you more than your parents do with regards to vernacular. My parents would say the rare curse word. Not me. I am a writer. Words matter to me. And let’s be honest, some curse words carry significantly more meaning and force behind them than their tinkerbell counterparts. So, I use them. It gets the point across. I mean, what other word in the English language can be used as a verb, adverb, adjective, command, interjection, noun, and can logically be used as virtually any word in a sentence. There is no more versatile word in the English language than the F word.
I curse in front of my kid. She knows to not use the curse words. She knows that when she is an adult, she can do what she wants with her language so long as she’s not mean or abusive. And she knows to not use curse words at school, even after she’s 18, because that’d make bad stuff happen. We’ve talked about it. At length. She knows that there are words that are strong words that sum up how you feel for something, but that a lot of people don’t like to hear those words for whatever reason, so we have to be careful where to say them. I’ve told her she can memorize them, store them up, and prepare for the day they all come gushing out when she grows up. But she can’t use them until then. And I thought it was working. I’ve not caught her using the language. I’ve never had a complaint from a teacher. Never. In 8 years, 7 of which she hasn’t had a silent moment. Sooooo, that email had my heart dropping through the floor. A string of lovely curse words flooded my brain like a dam broke.
I open it up and read. The teacher was emailing me because my girl is saying “butt crack” and “weiner.” I.kid.you.not.
I laughed so hard I snorted, and ended up in a coughing fit (asthma sucks). I think I scared the baby. It was epic. I sent a response saying we’d talk to her about potty language. And we did. We explained that the words are harmless if used on cartoons (which is where she got it from, apparently, cause I don’t use those words. please… I graduated to the F words decades ago), but that if used at school, it could hurt someone’s feelings as they are words that are easy to misinterpret. So it’s best to not use them. And we went over a few other words that I think are hilarious, but apparently are curse words in elementary school:
Boobies (boobs, tits, or any other reference to the mammary glands);
Butt, Butt crack, pooper, butthole, any reference to a butt at all (she volunteered some of these, WOW, this kid has an expanded vocab of “potty language” and I’m totally okay with this. She’ll be a writer when she grows up);
Weiner, pecker, weewee, balls, anything referring to that part of the male genitalia. (and we are going to be having a talk with her about the right words in the next few months. It’s time).
In the end, I told her “if your bathing suit covers the body part you are going to reference, don’t reference it. It’s kinda like the ‘we don’t let people touch where the bathing suit covers’ rule. We also don’t talk about anything that the bathing suit covers or what we do in the bathroom in public or with friends.”
My kid is smart and she got it… And then she asked me what she could say. I asked her what she thought she could use and she gave me a list… The things she’s got for replacement curse words. Wow. I gotta say I’m in love with this kid all over again. She’s brilliant:
Bucket (figure out what that replaces… say it REAL fast);
Fudge! (yelled really loud apparently… or that’s what she told me we were supposed to do with that word);
Double split peas (I don’t even think she knows what a split pea IS!);
Amsterdam (I think this is so she can actually say “damn” and not get in trouble… pretty smart);
Wood chuck. (When she said this, she made the inflection and drawl she used make this sound like she was saying “Well, F**k.” Which is one of my sayings. I’m still okay with this. Not a curse word if she’s referring to a small rodent.)
Wood chuck, my kid’s got me beat for creativity. I’m stealing these from the Wood chucking little monkey. Anyways, after all the kids were down to bed, I looked at Dan and said:
“We got an email from her teacher today.”
Dan: “I know.”
Me: “I saw the title was ‘language’ and I thought…” Dan: “Oh shit.” (interrupting me).
Dan: “But it was butt crack. Best bad words ever.”
Me: “I KNOW!”
Anyways, long story short. I curse in front of my kids. They know not to do the same. It’s worked for 8 years. It’s made my kid Amsterdam creative with ways to replace the words. And I think we won the parenting contest. Sophia Tempee for the coolest kid in the world, 2016.