March 18, 2010 at 9:30 pm 3 comments

The girls are in their underwear and running circles around the kitchen table. We’ve just eaten dinner, later than usual, and instead of winding down they are winding up. Way up. Once around the table they make a running leap for the couch and shout a swear word.

“Ass face!!!”

“Vulture vomit!!”

“Shit motherfucker!!”

“Fish face!!”

“Fishy fish butt!!”

It’s not the kind of game you’d want them to play with Great Grandma in the room, but that’s the whole point. We sometimes make a collective agreement to have a few private minutes of foul language. Our policy is that although words are just words, not inherently bad, there are many people who are put off by a number of particular words, and out of respect for them and their feelings, we refrain from saying them.

Also, if given the opportunity to explain further, I describe to the girls my feelings about other people hearing my children using language like that. I feel nervous that somebody will think me an unfit mother if they hear them saying “shit”, even if used appropriately. If I can, I like to spare myself an awkward exchange or someone else’s ire, and they can help me by saving those words for later. They seem to understand this.

But once we’re home, and we all agree, and everyone’s feelings are carefully tended to, for a short bit we let them go for it. You’d think that with such a colorful vocabulary on hand there might be more slips of the tongue, but surprisingly there aren’t. It seems the occasional debaucherous curse-fest lets off enough steam to spare us any public disturbances.

The only trick is for the parents to be able to withstand the repetition. I’m not bothered by ass face! once, but if you’ve ever been around nine and six-year olds then you are aware that for them repetition is everything. I’ll take a single shit motherfucker! over butt this, butt that, butt butt buttface, butt everything. I find myself yearning to request not that they tone it down, or even turn it down, (although the noise of three girls running, leaping and screaming certainly pushes the limit), but to mix it up more.

Then I remember that letting your children yell any of these words might be pushing the limits, to actually teach them several more is probably too much. Besides, if letting them scream ass! at home, even if it is ad nauseum, or continues until I’m dying of boredom, is the best way to avoid a water spurting, uncontrollable giggle fest when someone whispers that same word at a restaurant, I’ll take it.


Entry filed under: parenting principles. Tags: , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anneke  |  March 19, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Oh my gosh, that is hilarious. My four year old has been experimenting with some swear words, and my husband and I don’t get upset, we just explain to her that words aren’t bad, its just some people find others more offensive and might find it rude. I like your idea of letting them scream it out of their system. What a great idea. Thanks for being honest and sharing.

  • 2. Maryam  |  March 20, 2010 at 6:42 am


  • 3. Shelly  |  March 20, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Love this!! And totally agree!! My 2 1/2 yr old walks into a messy room and just shakes his head and yells “what a fucking mess”. I’ve told others, thinking he’s brilliant for using the word correctly, and just get gasps and “well what did you do about that look”. What I “do” when he says it is agree. The room usually is a fucking mess.


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