Today 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.