Profanity and Children

Sunday March 20th is a day that my children will remember as the day we received 876 inches of rain in 12 minutes. The 80+ degree weather of the past week disappeared behind a deluge that would have made Noah say, “not again.”

They’ll also remember it as the day that I told them that I couldn’t feel my legs anymore so I was going to pee in my pants to restore circulation. The idea of dad pissing in his pants had them roaring with laughter, at least I think that they were laughing. It was hard to hear over the rain and the gales of wind that threatened to send the dark haired beauty flying through the air towards Kansas. You think that I am kidding when I say that I saw the animals lining up two by two but I did. I paid good money for LASIK ten years ago and these eyes still work exceptionally well.

We weren’t outside very long at all but when 10,000 gallons of water is being dumped upon your head your learn the difference between being damp and drenched. You also realize that sometimes you shouldn’t growl What The Fuck so loudly because the two little ones will repeat your words ad nauseum. Not only that but they’ll try to engage you in crazy conversations about the differences between saying “fuck,” “What the fuck,” “fuck you” and “motherfucker.” And because you once explained to the ten year old that “fucking” is not just an insult but slang for a sex act his eyes will get wide as he suddenly realizes that you really are a “motherfucker.”

I felt his pain because though I am a big proponent of sex and believe that everyone should have plenty of it, I do not want to think of my parents doing it. Not now, not then, not later. Not on a bus, not on a train, a plane or even in the rain. In spite of appearances to the contrary, I was conceived the old fashioned way…out of clay. No seriously, the folks have been married for ten thousand years now so whatever they are doing is working, but I don’t need details.

Anyhoo, in a different post we can discuss the philosophy behind providing the children with the definitions to curse words.  For now let’s just say that if you don’t like it you are probably an uptight asshole who needs to get fucked more often, but I digress.

In spite of their attending a nice Jewish day school the children have been exposed to some of the same school yard antics that went on when we were children. Earlier this week I learned that some of the 4th graders are singing the “shit song” during lunch.  It is a very simple song that goes something like “shit shit, fuck fuck, damn, damn.”  Ten year old boys love this song. The ten year-old boy that lives under my roof didn’t love my telling him that I didn’t want him singing it anymore. Just because you know how to use a word doesn’t mean that you should. This is also known as the “do as I say, not as I do” parenting philosophy.

Tuesday afternoon I picked the children up from school and was driving them home when I almost choked on my Altoids. The dark haired beauty tried to whisper, “what is an asshole” and then blushed when her older brother told me. Except what he said was, “Don’t worry dad,  I am going to explain.”  I couldn’t help myself so I told him to go ahead and listened. I was quite curious to see what he would say.

He then provided her with the proper spelling and explained what an ass was and that the “hole” referred to the specific location that ‘poop’ comes from. It was all said in a very matter of fact tone, almost clinical really. She thought that this was disgusting and wanted to know why people would say it. While I listened to his explanation I considered what my response was supposed to be. I didn’t want to make it into a big deal, but I didn’t want them using the word either. So I told them the definition was correct but that it wasn’t the sort of language they should use.

Imagine my surprise when my son said, ‘what the fuck, only an asshole would forbid his children from using these words.” No, that didn’t happen. That was strictly me throwing that line in for gratuitous affect upon you the reader. Actually they both said ok but asked me to answer one question. “Have I ever been called an asshole before.”

I told them that I had and that sometimes people call other people names. The dark haired beauty was indignant about this and said that “only an asshole would call her father one.” So maybe the instruction not to use the word didn’t stick but the advice about family loyalty came through loud and clear.

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  1. Galit Breen March 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Jack, you rocked the f-word and anyhoo all in one post; love it!

    I, too, try to fund the balance between not making a big deal out of these things and letting my kids know how it sounds to others.

    Loved the “WTF AH…” I’ll admit to buying into it for just a moment!

    And last, but not least, you showed excellent self control in waiting and listening. I’m still working on that one!

    • Jack March 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm


      It really was all sorts of fun, one wacky day. This parenting thing is a balancing act that just never ends but thankfully it is exceptionally rewarding. They just make me smile.

  2. Erica Allison March 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    As the mom of an 8 y.o. and 2.5 y.o, i can totally relate and completely enjoy this post! That’s really every parent’s nightmare that our words will become their words and of course, at the most inopportune, public moment imaginable. Love it!

    • Jack March 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm

      I do admit to employing a healthy dose of salty language at times, but had thought that I had kept it pretty clean at home. It appears that between dad and the schoolyard they have received quite the education.

  3. Nikki March 21, 2011 at 10:02 am

    This has to be one of the funniest things I have read. A few months ago, my friend’s 4 year old niece said “Fuck it” and then tried to bribe her 5 year old cousin (the snitch) from ratting her out. Being a snitch, he did. Being a stand-up 4-year old and too sweet for words, she confessed. I’m the curious one, so I asked her what was she doing when she said that (I wanted to make sure she used it in the right context – these things are important). She explained that she was playing Cooking Mama, the video game, and she didn’t get the score she wanted so she said fuck it. She’s pretty soft spoken so I am sure it wasn’t very loud. A small part of me wanted to give her a High 5. I completely understand. But, as an adult, I felt obligated to smile on the inside and let her family deal with it in a way they felt appropriate. Sure was funny though!

  4. Stan Faryna March 21, 2011 at 7:30 am

    I’m confused. Is this fiction or non-fiction? Anyway, I grinned a few times through the read.

  5. ChopperPapa March 21, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Ah yes, their first dip in the putrid waters of profanity. I can still remember my first swim and that of my then 6 year old son. My story is here

  6. Leighann March 21, 2011 at 6:17 am

    The school yard song?
    My theme song for the day!
    Kids are geniuses.

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