Monday, March 8, 2010

Questionable Quirk

I have a secret . . . . Oh all right, not really a secret, rather something that I have not directly disclosed about myself. I'm sure you've surmised by now that I have a lot of bad habits, and upon reading my blog you may have had the infrequent occasion to observe my penchant for this particular practice. Despite that this is something I strive to refrain from revealing here, there have been a few instances where I've divulged this egregious element in these black and white expressions of my essence. It is something I often execute in everyday life, so much so that I am often unaware of this iniquitous idiosyncrasy occurring – until . . . one of my kids demonstrates the said shortcoming of which I speak.

It was only a few weeks ago that I was sitting in my family room, probably browsing the internet (which I do far too much mind you), when Aidan reminded me of my above-alluded disparaging defect. Bloody hell, I thought to myself, I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. I stopped what I was doing and I looked at this innocent boy who returned my gaze with a smile before going back to drawing his pretty picture on the Magnadoodle, obviously unaware of his misstep. I took a breath, contemplating how I was going to handle this, wondering if I should press forward with punishment. I knew what I wanted to do, and that letting it go was the preferred path. I mean, how could I expect him to know any better when he observed my mistake many times? I was caught between the old cliché, "a rock and a hard place," trying to decide whether or not to do what I wished, or what society says is necessary. I took another breath, wishing I could tell society to sod off!

Ah yes, so here it is, the art of cursing – my potential propensity for potty-mouth . . . there is nothing like shouting the f-bomb after stubbing my toe, or saying "Damn!" when amused by something a friend has said to me. Swearing is something that has never been censored from my life; both of my parents have done it quite frequently in my presence (although ironically less frequently now than in my childhood), and as such speaking like a sailor is an art I began misusing around age 10. Having never been properly educated on the where's and why's for such explicative expressions, I have additionally never been good at censoring myself and reserving such swears for their appropriate use. Yes you have read that right, APPROPRIATE USE . . . . At this statement you may be starting to consider my sanity, pondering the possibility that I am barking mad for thinking there is ever such an occasion for such foul fair, but before you click the red x on the top right hand corner of your internet browser, deeming me dingy no doubt, I implore you to bear with me for a bit longer while I make my case in point. I present you with an example:

A phrase that most of us use on a regular basis is "have a nice day!" This old adage is typically what one says when intending to wish someone else a great afternoon, so to speak. It's considerate, genuine, and polite when it's used in this form. However, this ancient idiom is also something one (such as myself) may use when a telemarketer refuses listen to one's pleas . . . , "No, I do not want the latest edition Good Grammar and How to Use It! HAVE A NICE DAY! [CLICK]" In the latter instance, this often used expression is certainly not polite, nor is it any way genuinely wishing the telemarketer to have a blissful afternoon, and in the end one may have well just said, "PISS OFF," because that is certainly what one meant.

It is for this reason I believe that it's not the cursing that is wrong, but the purpose behind it. If you are using it to direct ill feelings toward someone or something else, then that is when its usage is definitely inappropriate, something of which I'm guilty of more often than I would like to admit. Saying the cursing equivalent of crap after being incorrect is directed at no one other than myself however, and therefore considered perfectly acceptable, in my humble opinion anyway.

So after hearing Aidan use a "four-letter word" for the first time . . . okay, the first time in a few years . . . I pondered, as I had many times before, about where the idiotic idea of curse words came from in the first place, and why do I have the bleeding responsibility of making sure my kids don't say these sodding senseless taboos? I mean, you think it would be more appropriate to teach my children the suitable use of such assumed slander rather than just telling them not to do it, which in turn could inevitably cause them run off to school and say them to their friends, because as you and I both know, it's always so much fun to do something that is forbidden, is it not? Coincidentally, Susan Sarandon talked about this very subject on David Letterman once years ago. I hoped find the interesting interview on YouTube for all to see, but alas no luck. I cannot recount the discussion for you word by word, but what I may never forget is Ms. Sarandon telling Mr. Letterman that she had recently given her six-year-old son (at the time) a leisurely lesson on the proper usage of the infamous f-word, and that he is indeed allowed to use it in the house if used in the proper sense (such as when stubbing a toe). I was intrigued as I continued to listen to her rationale and I thought she was genius in her decision, hoping that one day I too could teach my kids when and where it was appropriate to utter such unmentionables.

Now, fast forward several years from said interview; I am in a similar situation to Susan. I have a six-year-old son who has just iterated something I say all the time, but if he says it in school, I have no celebrity status to explain myself out of the sticky situation. Despite my deeming his treatment of the word extremely appropriate, I allow the correction of this off kilter conduct to commence. "Aidan," I say as calmly as possible, "can you please tell me what you just said?" He looks up at me again, this time with confusion on his face. "Damn," he answers honestly, but quickly adds, "I didn't know mommy. I didn't know I couldn't say it." I think about how his frustration with the mistake he has made in his drawing, and consider that I would likely have delivered the same dialect in his circumstance. Bugger, I think to myself, as I want to applaud him for using the word correctly, but then I do what I need to do to protect my child from earning a ticket straight to the principal's office one day. "It is okay honey," I begin consolingly; "I know mommy says it too, but it's a grown-up word, and kids aren't supposed to use it. You can get in trouble if you use that word in school, so please don't say it again." He nods, letting me know he understands and goes back to his work. I, on the other hand, grunt in frustration, knowing that one day when he can discern the difference, I plan to let him know that the occasional swearing slip-up in our house for the appropriate reason is okay with me now and then, and perhaps he may in turn have far better censoring sensibilities than I ever have had on such swearing.

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