The new hot button issue in my house has been the use of vulgar language. I’ll be the first to admit that I do not help much in the promoting of "clean" language. It’s not like every other word that comes out of my mouth is a swear, but sometimes I will let one slip. My favorite tends to be "Son of a bitch!" I don’t say this at my kids, but I do find it funny that if I did then I would be said "bitch". I often think of the scene from the movie "Old School" when the guy says "ear muffs" to his son. The boy covers his ears and the father spews out some choice words. My problem is I tend to swear and then scream "ear muffs!" I’m having trouble figuring out what to do now that the damage is done. Most advice I get on the subject suggests that I should simply ignore it if my child swears. Oh, OK. So when my child is in a group of other children (some of which have parents that have given me this advice) and he says “shit”, you want me to ignore him, right? No problem...but don’t call me complaining when your kid starts saying it. Then there is the problem of addressing it and now the word has some power. Anyone with kids knows that the more you tell a child to stop something, the more determined they are to keep doing it...
Parent: "Stop touching that!"
Child: "What...this? (as they are touching the object) You don’t want me to touch this?"
Well, it's the same thing with swearing...
Parent: "I don’t want you to use that word"
Child: "What word? Ass? You don’t want me to say ass? Why can’t I say ass?"
An incident that happened the other day really got my attention. My son had my IPod and was wearing the headphones so I didn’t know what he was listening to. I was laughing to myself because he didn’t notice me watching and starting dancing all around and screaming the lyrics to the song. Then it happened...he dropped the F bomb. The sound effect that would be most appropriate for this scene would be that of tires on a car as it comes to a screeching halt. WHOA!! What did he just say?!? OK, the first thing I actually thought of was how he was probably doing a perfect imitation of me when I hear that song in a bar. But then I snapped out of it and wondered how I was going to handle this. I calmly gestured to him to give me the IPod. When he took off the headphones he asked why he couldn’t listen anymore. I told him there were words in that song that children shouldn’t say. "What words" he asked. Oh no, I’m not going to play that game! "There are just some words that are for adults only" I explained. Since he wouldn’t understand what "vulgar" is, I’ve decided to refer to swears as "adult words". Besides, he seems to understand the concept of "adult beverages". I know some people call them "bad words", but I was afraid to call them that since a lot of adults that he is around use these words on a regular basis. I don’t want him to assume that bad words are said by bad people.
Let me point out that I am not the only guilty party here either. They repeat all kinds of words that I wish they wouldn’t. They hear them on television, the radio, and from other children. I’ve always appreciated Disney movies because they always seem to add content that may go over a child’s head, but makes adults laugh. But the Disney Channel has a lot of cartoons now that have my kids saying things like "idiot", "stupid", or my favorite; "dill weed". Granted it’s not the F bomb but I’m still not fond of my kids calling other people these things. Especially me. Regardless of whether or not I let them watch these shows, there will be other kids that watch them and say what they hear. I guess I could just have them watch the old cartoons that I grew up watching like Tom & Jerry. They don’t even talk; they do however chase each other around all day and kick the crap out of each other. I just can’t win.
Last week my doorbell rang and it was my neighbor’s daughter. I opened the door and she said "What is a dick?" Hold up, what?!? (There was the sound effect of a that car trying desperately to stop again) "Umm, honey, huh? Who said that?" Thankfully it was not one of my children. My mind was spinning while I tried to figure out what to tell her. Let’s see; a Dick is what people sometimes call a private investigator. Or...Dick is often used as a nickname for someone named Richard. Think...think. Finally she must have sensed my duress and broke the silence with "Is it a slang word?" I said "Well, yes, I guess so". "Does it mean I Love You?" Umm, well I guess technically it could be used to show love...good grief. "Go ask your mom what that is dear". I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall over there. I was just praying she didn’t go home and say "Mom, Mrs. Farrell wants me to ask you what a dick is".
Honestly, I think some people may be a little too uptight about the whole thing. One woman was telling me that her son brought home a letter from his teacher saying he had to be disciplined because he used the word “penis” at school. Mind you, he didn’t call someone that. He was actually talking about...get this...HIS PENIS! Really, would she prefer that he call it his "junk", or his "package" or his "twig and giggle berries"? I suggested to the mother that she have him ask if he could call it his dick. Let her try to explain that word to him. Actually, I really want to hear what she would say...you know, just in case someone rings my doorbell and asks ME...