Profanity- The Children Learn New Words

Writing Books

My father says that no one could swear as well or as colorfully as my grandfather. Years in the carnival business, as a soldier and a streetwise kid in Chicago gave him quite the vocabulary. Mind you, I can’t remember hearing my grandfather swear in front of me until I was a teenager.
He had great command of the language and didn’t curse unless there was a purpose.

But when he did engage the more colorful side of his oratory skills it was fun to listen to. He could go on for a solid half hour and never repeat himself. This is one area that I can’t compete with him. I have my share of expressions that I use and I like to think that I use them well.

I’d like to say that my children have never heard me utter a foul word, but the rules of the blog forbid lying. So I will readily confess to upon occasion having exposed them to a few words that I’d rather they not use. Until recently I could count on three fingers the number of times they had used any sort of profanity.

Yesterday things changed. As I was getting onto the freeway I found myself stuck behind a driver who refused to drive faster than 30 MPH. She is an accident waiting to happen and it was only dumb luck that prevented us from being struck by other drivers on the fabulous 405.

Needless to say as we rode behind this woman not only did I apply my horn I used a number of different words such as %&$#^&%, $$^&$^%^&# and %&## to express my displeasure.

Once we were safely ensconced in our lane I apologized to the children and explained that I had made a mistake in using those words. My son surprised me by agreeing with me.

“Dad, you did make a mistake. You should have said something else.”

“Oh?” “What do you think I should have said?”

And then from the seat behind my own I heard a soft voice say “you should have said suck my dick.”

After I picked my jaw up from the steering wheel I asked him to tell me where he had learned that particular expression.

“John’s older brother taught us.”

John is the 15 year-old older sibling of one of my son’s good friends. I may swear upon the odd occasion, but I have never used that expression in front of the children.

So I told my son that this wasn’t something that I wanted him to say and then I asked him if he understood what it meant. When he told me that he didn’t understand I breathed a sigh of relief and then pondered how to respond.

I didn’t really want to explain what it meant. He is still young enough that he doesn’t really need to know this, but at the same time I did say that he shouldn’t use words/expressions without knowing what it means.

I’ll have to share that part of the conversation with you all later.

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  1. Jack's Shack October 24, 2007 at 6:59 am


    Fortunately I can swear in 12 languages including Hebrew so I am prepared for that.


    Your story reminds me that I am going to teach my 3 year old daughter to be a mohel. That should help keep those “cockys” where they belong. 😉


    That is Texas for you.


    Want to feel really old. I was in preschool in 1967. 😉

  2. cruisin-mom October 24, 2007 at 12:56 am

    Jack, thanks for making me feel REALLY old!!!!

  3. susanne October 23, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    According to my mother, the first word I ever uttered was “shit.” Didn’t stop her from cussing in front of me, though.

  4. Jewish Deaf Motorcycling Dad October 23, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    Just yesterday my 4 year old told me that while in the bathroom one of the other 4 year old girls asked if my daughter wanted to see “Bob’s cocky.” I had to ask her a few times to make sure I heard this right. I asked what my daughter said, and she told me she didn’t know what it was, and didn’t realy want to see it.

    “Good answer!” Now I need to talk with the teacher about cockies being shown off. Oy. But that’s as close as she came to saying a dirty word, so far. And given my language before the kids were born, that’s pretty darn good!

  5. westbankmama October 23, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Wow! Just think, Jack – it could have been worse. There were times when my kids swore but I didn’t realize it because it was in Hebrew! (they don’t teach you those words in ulpan). My husband had to explain to me which words I had to scold the kids for!

  6. Jack's Shack October 23, 2007 at 2:45 pm


    I am sure that made your mother think twice.


    Is Rudy named for the movie?


    That little boy was me. I apologize.


    Old fashioned doesn’t always mean out of style.

  7. The Misanthrope October 23, 2007 at 5:13 am

    I still discourage daughter from swearing in front of me. I don’t cuss around my parents, for the most part. I think it’s just respectful in an old fashion way.

  8. cruisin-mom October 23, 2007 at 2:17 am

    When I was in college I worked at a pre-school…a sweet little 3 year old boy told me to F-off! It was hard to know whether to laugh or cry.
    Oy Jack…you have your hands full with that boy of yours 🙂

  9. The Babka Nosher October 23, 2007 at 1:49 am

    When BabkaEtte was about 3 years old, My husband went to yell at the dog… Rudy! G-d… and then he stopped himself in time to hear a little voice at the dinner table pipe in “DAMMIT!”

  10. FlutePrayer October 22, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    The first words my younger sister said (according to her baby book) were “DAMMIT! DAMMIT!” It caused my mother to re-think her vocabulary. But SMD? Yikes! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the conversation.

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