Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Am I a Prude?

Okay, I know that I'm a grown up and I can talk any damn way I want to. I mean, what the hell? Who the F is going to tell me what to say or how to say it? I can kick their asses if they think they can lay their lame shit on me.

Well that is the highest number of expletives I have ever typed in 4 sentences. That is more curse words than I have used in the last month.


Recently I joined a mom's group. I really love the ladies and they are so generous, fun, welcoming, etc. Just what I needed to help the transition to TX. However, it is pretty clear that they have not had the luck of hearing their child repeatedly say damnit damnit damnit damnit. Or, even better, watching and listening in horror as their toddler calls a playmate an asshole. I guess I am just so used to censoring my own language around my kids that hearing an adult say "What the hell?" makes me cringe a little. Is this language obscene? I guess not. I don't bat an eye when I hear that or even much worse on TV. That, in and of itself, is a shame, but let's leave that discussion for another post.

So what am I to do? Say, "Excuse me but could you kindly refrain from using inappropriate language in front of my 8, 7, and 5 year olds because they will repeat it and tell everyone where they heard it. So unless you want your name smeared all over the primary schoolyard, you better shut yer trap." hmmm... for some reason I don't think that will endear me to my fellow stay at home mommies.

It's not that I am a straight-laced Laura Ingalls type, but I am just so used to holding my tongue that I have TOTALLY gotten into the habit of saying things like:
(after stubbing toe) "Oh rats! Mommy has a boo-boo. Ouchie Ouchie it hurts!!"
"Well poopy! I forgot my wallet at home."
"Oh my goodness gracious, are you okay there?"
"What in good golly are you doing?"
"Hey you... silly driver!"

In our house we don't even say words that are very PG or G, depending on your perspective. For example, three (okay, four) words that are on the "NO" list are: shut up, stupid, and butt. You might say, Okay I see the first two as being no-nos but what's up with butt? My mom has the same question. Here's my rationale: if butt is okay to say, then it's just one more step to Butt-Head, Butt-Face, Butt-Breath, kick your butt, get your butt out of my room, etc. My verbage of preference would be hiney. I just don't see my two boys being able to say, "That's it! I'm going to kick your hiney!!" without breaking into laughter and therefore diffusing any argument. Also, it's a two-syllable word so it's just one step tougher to blend it into insults. Like hiney-breath or hiney-head. I guess I just see Butt as a vulgar term and I don't even like to say it around my kids.

Here's the meter I use when judging language boundaries in our house: when I was a kid I loved being all girl but I also loved doing everything that people told me I couldn't. Like build stuff. Or tear stuff down. Or hang with the guys. So while I relished my time to be free and goof off, I also recognized what a true "lady" looked like. My godmother was so beautiful and elegant. She was very soft spoken, had impeccable manners, and was always perfectly groomed. She was kind to me and everyone was drawn to her because of her warm personality. She was not showy or gaudy but she had a quiet beauty and elegance. It seemed effortless. I always felt like she didn't have to try to be a lady, because it just came so naturally to her. When I decide if something is okay to say or not, I try to picture my godmother saying it. If I can picture her repeating the words in question, I give it the green light. If I can't ever imagine her saying the type of words that would make a sailor blush, then I give it the thumbs down. This is all just a mental exercise for me - I've never shared my train of thought with my children. But I like to use her as a guidepost against which my (and my kids') language can be measured.

The other day we were all in the car and I said "Come on, jerk, hurry up!" And of course JL yells out, "Mommy, I'm not a jerk. Don't say that. And don't call me names." See how easily it all starts???


Elizabeth said...

Nope. Not a prude. Responsible & Adult are the words you are looking for. I know just what you mean...we use "tushie"...who could be vulgar with "tushie"???
Everyone has to draw the line somewhere. My older brother just about washed my mouth out with soap when he heard me call someone a "jerk" when I was 12...went on to explain the origins of the term...boy, did I turn red!
I can't stand the way everyone and their brother uses "s*cks" as a replacement for "stinks"...and why does everything have to be "HOT"?
Pax Christi, EJT

Bridgett said...

We use "bottom" because it comes up a lot with potty training. But it must always be used in the context of such. Maeve has tried other ways around this, clever little things like, "Mary Alice's (friend down the street) favorite word is 'bottom'."

I am overly fond of "dang" and "flipping" as I correct my own bad language. My older daughter seemed to have the inherit ability to know some words were off limits to her (maybe it was the language delay in general). But this younger one. Dang.

Donna-Michele said...

Another great post.

Ohhhh, this is a big one with me... I don't like to hear s*ck, or jerk, or dork. I don't like 'Gyp' or similar ethnic-derived insults.

...though my biggest is when hubbie's three boys throw 'Gay' at each other. I explained that 'gay' isn't to be used at our house, about 500 times last visit. Anything they dont like, a food, an activity, a song, was labeled as "Gay". As in "We don't eat brussel sprouts because they are Gay" So, I escalated to asking them to explain why 'things' are gay. Putting pre-teens on the spot stops the behavior lickety-quick.

La Pixie said...

I was never allowed to say "butt." in our house, we had to say "bottom." very lame. I was prolly 13 before I dared say "butt" out loud... when my mom was NOT present, of course. "shut up" and "shut ush" were also taboo.

as an adult, I cringe when I hear bad words. I considered it a huge insult if I was on a date and a guy used bad words in front of me. manners. people need them.