The king’s English

by Jennifer on February 8, 2008

swearing.jpgToday I’m baring my trucker soul, with apologies to truckers everywhere. My sister insists that it will be good to be so honest. So. In our house, I am responsible for about 70% of the swear words that fly through the air like little witches on brooms. I’d say Mr. H is responsible for another 25%, but I should pro-rate his portion, since he travels a lot. So I’m certain my share would diminish if he were home more of the time. Very certain.

Mr. H’s use of colorful language is usually connected in some way to spilled coffee, or the dog. Buddy, our dog, responds to several names, which include: Movebuddy! ; Dammitbuddy!; and, when he’s gotten into the trash or conducted business on the carpet (especially first thing in the morning before I’ve even had my coffee), his full name, Goddammitbuddy! I assure you, before you go running off to call the Humane Society, that despite our occasional mixed feelings about the dog, we do love him. He barks at things, even invisible things!, and we’re certain that at least once he’s frightened away a troublesome burglar. So we don’t mind having him around. He’s big and loud, which are two essential qualities in any dog who hopes to live in our house. Ever.

My own swearing covers a broader spectrum of topics and causes. I try to be democratic about such things. Spills. A stubbed toe. An inch of bathwater on the bathroom floor. Or, my favorite, finding the dog eating our underwear.

The thing is, if I had any sense, I would try instead to become more international in my swearing, and thus more secretive about it, by learning an array of naughty words in other languages. In French, Merde! In Italian, Vaffanculo! or Spanish, beso mi culo. Look ’em up.

In an attempt to keep my children from ever spending time in the principal’s office for swearing, I decided I really ought to try to curb my own cursing habit. My kids have a general sense of what words make the top of the bad word list, so I knew I could count on them to point out my mistakes. They are well-practiced at this, and not just in this one area.

I established a Bad Word jar, and imposed a fine of 25 cents for each infraction*. I let my kids know that on the first day of each month, I would divide the contents of the jar between them. They were delighted, perhaps because they sensed just how wealthy they might become. For me, I wasn’t sure that a quarter a pop would be enough of a deterrent. Turns out, it has, though it’s still not uncommon to hear the jingle jangle of a quarter landing in the jar.

And, seriously? Some days I feel like just handing them five bucks, and letting ‘er rip.

But I don’t. Turns out, the jar has been a good thing. They each netted a **couple of bucks this first month. But that was loaded pretty much on the front end of the month. I even make myself put a in a quarter when they don’t notice the word. Self-regulation is good.

In case any of you were doing the math up there, about the percentages, you may have noticed that my numbers came up just shy of a 100% total. Well, that other 5%? That’s for the Girl. When she was 5, she went through a solid couple of months of calling her brother a dumbass. Yep. Hand me my Mother of the Year award right now, ’cause I’ve earned it. Despite a recent short relapse, we have managed to curtail and eventually halt her use of the word, thank goodness. Curtailing my own use of colorful language may have played a part in it.

I hope to hell it has.

*I only pay for words that fly when the kids are around. Money doesn’t grow on freakin’ trees, you know.

**couple=few

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

suburbancorrespondent February 8, 2008 at 1:23 am

I do so hate hearing my words coming out of my kids’ mouths. I once heard my daughter lecturing her brother: “This isn’t a restaurant, you know!” Ouch.

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Slow Panic February 8, 2008 at 1:33 am

there will be no jar at my house. i can not afford it.

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Jen February 8, 2008 at 2:40 am

Um, yeah. I feel ya. Besides the *few* curse words my boys have picked up from me, they’ve also picked up one kinda curse word somewhere (i have no idea where) that I think is cute: holy shrimps! I can easily imagine Sponge Bob using that one.

Big dog=big poo pile and that’s just hard not to curse about!

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Angela February 8, 2008 at 3:54 am

The creative use of profanity is something I value in a person. For real. My kids know that they aren’t allowed to swear..falls under the same category as drinking, shaving their legs, and driving a car. They are simply too young. How sick is that?

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Brenda February 8, 2008 at 4:38 am

Oh! What a day today has been. I NEEDED this humorous entry! I just got back from “working” at my “favorite” customer’s home. (No, I’m not a Lady of the Night.) If you had to pay for thoughts, I would have filled two jars today and tonight just for what this day and this job has been!
I think I’m with Jodi on the affording it. When you (Mrs. H) first told me of this, I thought, “Maybe I should do something about myself. (Since my 6-year-old innocently said, “Dammit,” when something went wrong with whatever she was doing on the computer. It was quite appropriate for the situation, I might add, but still……) But I thought I’m not ready for that. Kind of like I’m not ready for a diet.
BUT, I admire your will and especially that it’s working–at least a little.

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Brenda February 8, 2008 at 4:40 am

p.s. Although I’m not willing to diet, I AM willing to exercise, so maybe you’ve given me an idea after all. I’m not willing to put money in a jar, but maybe I’m willing to learn some new languages! Hey, thanks!!!

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slouching mom February 8, 2008 at 5:00 am

ben likes to use the word “idiot.” where does that stand in your hierarchy of bad words?

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liv February 8, 2008 at 5:13 am

umm…you’re getting a comment from a mom whose son interviewed at a montessori school and said, “oh, shit!” to the directress. it was awesome.

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Kellan February 8, 2008 at 5:29 am

I’ve often confessed to the fact that Little Billy went to Kindergarten with the 3 S’s – Sh**, Shut-up and Stupid. Hand me that fricken award too! Our dog’s name is Buddy too – maybe that has somethin’ to do with all this – ya think? I didn’t think so. Take care – cute post. Kellan

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Emily February 8, 2008 at 11:57 am

You SHOULD only pay for words when they are around. Cursing when they aren’t around is totally OK.

That jar holds you accountable. Good thinking.

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we_be_toys February 8, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Girl! I am a trucker mama too, and it is SO hard to curb it! We’ve taken to making up new swear words, to keep us all out of the principal’s office! some of our favorites are:
Bolshevik
Snap Dagit
the ever popular JINKIES, as coined by Velma of Scooby-Doo fame
mother puss bucket
and others I’ve forgotten- all that comes to mind are the old stand-bys……whoops!
Back to the drawing board, I guess!

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Tootsie Farklepants February 9, 2008 at 12:20 am

I embrace my foul mouth.

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cce February 9, 2008 at 4:33 pm

We have a manners jar and bad language is included in the long list of infractions for which we all must pay. I am definitely the sailor in the family and just slipped a dollar in the jar this morning when I said to my eight year old after he taunted his little sister for the bad smell she made in the bathroom, “What? Your shit don’t stink?” We all covered our mouths and immediately began giggling and thank god the Better Half is away on business or I think I might have had my mouth washed out with soap.

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Marlee February 9, 2008 at 8:51 pm

OMG, swearing in another language–that’s GENIUS!!!!!

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flutter February 9, 2008 at 9:06 pm

how awful is it that whenever anyone says a**hole, my mom has to call me and say “Hi dollface, someone just used your favorite word and it made me think of you….”

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sugarplumsmom February 10, 2008 at 1:16 am

I have to giggle at this because I am the one who swears in our house too.

A friend of mine has a son turning 4 this week. He went out in the garage one day and the kitten decided to run around under is feet. He yelled at her. “You Stupid F**#($& Little B*45ty! Get back in the house!”
His son nailed him… “Daddy! You said a bad word! You said Stupid!”

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AMomTwoBoys February 10, 2008 at 3:59 am

Did you steal this from my head? Seriously. I think you did. Although I’m with slowpanic i that I can’t afford a freakin’ jar. It would be WAY too expensive for me.

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HRH February 10, 2008 at 10:27 pm

That was so funny. I love it.

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JCK February 12, 2008 at 5:31 pm

Brilliant. But, expensive…

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Autumn February 12, 2008 at 6:01 pm

I am the trucker in our house, too. At times, a very creative trucker. If there was a jar, my kids would all three have their college educations paid for in a month.. maybe two.

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