Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#ParentTip Teaching Your Kids NOT to Curse

There comes a time in every parent's life when they hear their child utter a profanity for the first time. For me, it was when my oldest was almost 3 and she blurted out "F*CK!"
In all fairness, it was my fault. Like a veritable indoor Cody Lundin, I like to go barefoot at home. This is often dangerous when small children lay their toys about. Especially girls with their chintzy vending-machine jewlery. In this case, a metal ring undoubtably made of 50% lead, imported from the finest of Indian jewlers. When I placed my foot on it, then pressed my (then) 265 pounds down on it, it very nearly sliced through my callouses. I immediately exlaimed the F-word, and struck the wall that happened to be nearby. My daughter thought it was hilarious and burst out laughing. For several days thereafter, she would run around and declare "F*CK!" then hit the wall and break out laughing.
Not long after, we adopted the "movie talk" policy: you may only use movietalk if you are in a movie, or when you reach 18. It has worked for years.
Alas, as the children have grown older and become more exposed to life, they are beginning to hear more and more colorful language. Especially from the internet.
Just a few nights ago me and the kids watched some Youtube gamer videos- I'm fascinated by the ways so many people find to glitch and cheat in games. We stumbled across very polissibly the funniest gamer on the internet: ROBBAZ- King of Sweden. Amongst the colorful language we heard from Robbaz was him calling the other team in a commentary of a BF3 match "Pussies" (or as he says it, poo-sies; he has a funny swedish accent). Yoinks!
The next night, me and the girls waited in the minivan while the wife grocery shopped (the van having a DVD player and comfortable leather seats- making it far more comfortable than pushing a shopping cart). During this waiting time, my eldest, Sammie, decided to quote Robbaz, and uttered the word "Pussies".
I told her not to say that word... then had to explain why she can't. Crap.
I hastily explained that pussies are pussycats, and went into one of my mind-numbingly boring dissertations on the origin of the phrase: how in 1950s people called someone very nice and quiet a pussycat, etc. etc. I then went on to explain that pussycats are the weakest of animals- that even a small child could kill one, and so a "pussy" was someone overly weak. I told her that there was another use of the word that is cursing, and that she didn't need to know it, but just don't use the word and but that Robbaz meant it as a "sissy"-type remark on his gaming opponents.
Ha! Clever, on-the-fly lying points for me...
Hours later, as I reflected on this, I thought, "Oh, my God, what if my daughter says that word at school? In front of her mother?
After a talk with the wife, I decided it was time for a conversation about cursing with my 12 year old.
I revealed the origins of the word again... from harmless 1950s & 60s term for a quiet, nice, etc person, to the shortened euphemism for a female body part in the 1970s and 1980s, to it's over use in the 1990s, leading to it cavalierly being thrown about now as a term for a weak person. I equated it to "pantywaist" a term not used much anymore. Then I had to explain that. I stated that I prefer she use "wussy" if she had too, but admitted I don't know the origins of that one.
We then went on to cover other profanities, "balls", "Bollux", "fag", etc. etc. I liked to throw the British terms in to demonstrate how something harmless-sounding here might be offensive in other countries and vice-versa. For example, "Tits", another of Robbaz's favorites. I explained teats, boobs, knockers, hooters, etc. I explained that "tit" doesn't have the same offensiveness overseas as here. I should have explained "tit-mouse" but I completely blanked on that one.
In the end I answered her questions about other words she's heard at school ("Chode" for example). I explained why boys like to talk about "hot dogs" and "weiners" and why they think it's funny. And I got an agreement that she not repeat any word she doesn't know the meaning of until checking it with me.
Thank goodness the wife had already given a Birds and Bees 101 talk. it would have been f*cking awkward to have that conversation with a 12 year old.
So to all you Youtubers out there... please watch it with the sex talk. Children are watching.