Friday, September 26, 2008

The Family Curse

graphic from
I was raised in a family where cursing was just part of the communication strategy. As a toddler, I earned a reputation for muttering and/or sighing "Jesus Cwiest" when something was frustrating me. I quickly progressed through the "taking to lord's name in vain" style of cursing, and ramped it up to calling a fellow Kindergartener a "bitch". For the record, she WAS a bitch, which is why Mrs. Smith probably did not seem that upset with me. By Junior high, there was a smattering of the F word, and by the time I was 18, curses of all shapes and sizes peppered my speech like commas. My parents' concern about my language was focused solely on it's grammatical correctness. I would get lectures almost daily about saying "I" v.s. "me" ("me and Jen or Jen and I - still have no idea which is correct.) But I could drop the f-bomb and no one would blink. Because my fahter probably used it more then I did.

As a young adult, after living on my own for a year, I moved back home for a time with my parents and brothers, running a small newspaper that was laid out in the living room. The paper had to be ready to go to the printer by a certain time, and to get to the printer, you had to take a ferry. So, you really couldn't be late, or you would literally miss the boat. We always had a pretty good idea of how things were going with the layout, based on when my father started to use the word fuck. As things started to get down to the wire, that word flew out of my father with alarming frequency. He didn't use it in sentences, though, he just threw it out there as a solitary expletive.

I am much more creative. I can use the word fuck as almost any part of speech, from adjective to verb. I really like the word - it is useful and multi-purpose, relating both good and bad feeling. I use fuck as my go-to vulgarity almost exclusively. I think that makes it better.....I am not just using any old swear word, but the authentic, tried and true, really vulgar and completely unacceptable mother of all curses.

I am giving you all of that history to explain why, in the middle of dinner the other night, my 7 year old hollered "BAD WORD" at me, and I had, literally, no idea what he was talking about.
"Dude, I did not use a bad word."
"Yes you did, I just heard you."
"What word did I use ?"
"The f word."
"No, I didn't, I would remember if I said that."
"Yes, yes you did. You said 'that's fucking ridiculous'"
"I DID ? No, I didn't, I would remember that."

We both looked over at the man of the house, to clear this matter up. My husband, the father of my son, looked back and forth between us and said "What does it say about me as a parent if I say I didn't notice ?"

See, so it's not just me. And our kids don't swear (yet).

No comments: