Adult Language and Situations

How not to respond when the preschool informs you that your kid dropped the f-bomb.

There are rules about profanity in my house.  It is to be done rarely, purposefully, and exclusively by the parents.  My two older children both experimented with the boundaries of language and received very strong reprimands when they eventually crossed those borders.

My son once bumped his foot on the leg of the dining room table and exclaimed something so objectionable that my response has left him referring to the first Sunday in May as "Moms Day" and his breathing becomes more rapid when he speaks of those pieces of flatware with tines lest the word be heard as anything other than "fork."

My daughter Scout chose to make her debut into the world of cursing by referring to Voldemort as an excretory orifice.  While I spent my disciplinary capital making sure that she understood that she was not to use that word, her father may or may not have spent his time giving her examples of people to whom the word in question better applied. 

While I explained that profanity is called "adult language" because a person needs a substantial bit of life experience to determine when he or she is in an appropriate situation for its use, the father of my children made distinctions like "No, Joe McCarthy was one.  Sidney Crosby is one.  Benedict Arnold was one.  Your mom used to date one.  It's not the right word for a demented warlock child killer with Oedipal issues."

Which is probably how we got into a situation whereby I received a very tentative telephone call from my daughter's preschool.  Baby Poe had made an early pledge to the Society of Swearers.  While I was enormously curious to know the particulars of the situation, I was almost equally reluctant to hear which specific gem my little girl had chosen to bestow upon the graham-crackers-and-apple-juice set.

I promised to stop off in the director's office before I picked my child up for the day and steeled myself to learn the details of the infraction.  To make a short story absolutely pithy, my daughter loves one of the special toys at the school so much that she had to invoke the adjectival form of a common Anglo Saxon gutteral.   She said something like "I really like that flocking dollhouse!"  Except she said it a little differently.

So I had to appear outraged, which I was.  But I also had to appear unamused and completely unimpressed and that required some acting.   The profane adjective is a tricky part of speech and one which we employ in the home only in anger.  That my child was able to adapt it to a situation of profound appreciation showed a linguistic deftness which I had not suspected she possessed. 

There was a comprehension of irony and the courage to employ new vocabulary.  Did I not owe those things some deference?

The answer, just in case you too find yourself weighing the severity of this curse word in an educational facility which bans the word "stupid" within its walls, is a resounding no.  Do not show anything but deep remorse and a firm commitment to prevent this devious utterance from being repeated.

I made a sheepish departure with the world's newest potty mouth in tow all the while thinking, "Her dad is going to catch hell if he doesn't learn to control his damn swearing!"

Frank Sogandares June 15, 2011 at 08:39 PM
Sponge Bob, apparently, categorizes swear words as "sentence enhancers"....
Maria Koklanaris Bonaquist June 15, 2011 at 08:52 PM
Okay, Sidney Crosby is NOT one. But we'll save that discussion for another time. Other than that one glaring error, outstanding column.


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