Do you solemnly swear?

 

Seems Bubby, who will be four years old next week, has learned the power of swear words, and he wielded that power mighty and strong this past week. While in public, at the splash pad. While in time-out at the splash pad for hitting a friend, in fact.

Bubby's time-out is what elicited his use of the illicit language. It wasn't the F-word. Not the GD-word or the S-word. No dad-from-A-Christmas-Story style rant. Bubby did, though, go whole hog in hollering out the H-word. Again and again and again. To Mommy.

Not the H-word you might expect, though, as the H-word flying from Bubby's mouth and directed right at Mommy was hate. As in "I hate you."

My sweet little Bubby told his mommy he hates her for putting him in time out. For humiliating him in public (though deservedly so, I say). For making him stop splashing at the splash pad and sit this one out. Saying the H-word, of course, increased Bubby's punishment by way of he and Mommy (and innocent Baby Mac, too) having to leave the splash pad and his friends so Bubby could be sent to his room until he could find his happy heart as well as words of apology that would sufficiently satisfy Mommy.

It was Bubby's first time swearing at his mom. And in Megan's house—as it was in my house when Megan was young—hate is indeed a swear word. At least when it's directed at people. You can hate broccoli, but you sure as heck better never, ever, ever say you hate a person, no matter how angry you might be, no matter how much you really actually dislike the person it's directed at.

The S-word was a no-no in our household, too. That being shut up. Nope, not allowed in my house back then, not allowed in Megan's house now.

Of course the real S-word and H-word, along with all the expected consonant-beginning cuss words (plus the A-word, too) weren't allowed either. Swearing was a sign of ignorance, I tried to stress to my girls. People only use swear words because they're too stupid to come up with something better, I told them, convinced them...for the most part. (I'm sure they wondered why their mom and dad got really stupid sometimes and spouted nonsensical swear words left and right for unfathomable reasons. It was only occasionally, though. I swear.)

I did understand while raising my daughters, though, that sometimes there really isn't a smart word for saying what's roiling and boiling inside, and a cuss word is the only thing that will properly express the inner turmoil, frustration, rage. So I allowed the girls one swear word, beginning about the time they were in junior high. That one cuss word was crap. To me, crap isn't that big of a deal. Sure, I didn't want them telling their teachers, "This is crap!" or anything of that sort. But if they ever felt so strongly about something that they couldn't muster a more masterful word, they would not be punished for uttering the C-word.

So they did. My oldest daughter in particular. She used that C-word as often as possible. More than I would have liked, to be honest, but how could I reverse the rules for overuse. It would fade, I figured. She was using the power she was given to its utmost ability.

Funny thing is, as the girls got older—and no longer living at home—the younger two stretched their language skills by incorporating some of the formerly banned words into their vocabularies. Occasionally far more often than I'd like. But they're adults, that's their choice. But Brianna, the one who most often spouted crap as a teen, chooses as an adult to rarely swear except to say crap. You know she must be really, really, REALLY angry if the S-word or B-word or any other cuss word besides crap comes out of her mouth. The F-word? Oh, my. I don't think I've ever heard her say it.

(Though I have no doubt she has said the F-word and other choice swear words at times, considering some of the relationship turmoil she's dealt with, and I can't blame her. I'd have been saying EFF this and EFF that and EFF you far more often and far sooner than my fair-mouthed daughter if I'd have faced off with a few of the EFFers <cuss>ers she's befriended now and again.)

I digress...

The bottom line is that...well...that I have three points I'm trying to make but can't seem to pull them together into one coherent closing. So I'll make it easy on myself and on you with bullet points:

  • Bubby is swearing. Sort of. Which is a huge deal on one hand, not so huge of a deal on the other. The huge-deal hand is that he said he hates his mother, which is far worse, at least to me—and to Megan—than if he had told her to EFF off. The H-word is one of the most powerful swear words a child can wield to effectively pierce a mommy's heart. Far more hurtful than the F-word. That's just my opinion; I'm sure there are others.
  • Kids shouldn't be allowed to cuss—yes, not even if Mommy and Daddy get to do it. But I prefer to think it's one of the benefits of becoming an adult, one of the things a kid can look forward to doing when they grow up. Like gambling or drinking or choosing to never eat broccoli or lima beans again. Again, that's just my opinion; I'm sure there are others.
  • That said, though, I do think kids should be given one Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free cuss word to use when the situation—to their thinking—demands. Once more, that's just my opinion; I'm sure there are others.

Actually, I just had another thought, another point to make. So here's a fourth bullet:

  • Maybe what kids and others who don't want to seem crass and foul-mouthed in public should do is use a universal sign much like the finger quotes, but one that designates the fake cuss word. Kind of like when I write <cuss> and <cuss> and <cussity-cuss-cuss> on Grandma's Briefs.

Maybe? Or would that quickly become just as <cuss> annoying as those <cuss> finger quotes?

Today's question:

What happens when your kids or grandkids swear in front of you? What happens when you swear in front of them?