In a past life I was a sailor. At the very least, a longshoreman. There is no other excuse for my impressive knowledge of profanity. When it comes to being a potty mouth, I got mad skill. Unfortunately, so does my not-quite 4 year old son, The Midget. It seems that the potty mouth gene does not skip a generation but is passed on with a heightened intensity. Two years ago, I had one of those Oprah ah-ha moments and deemed it was time to change. I still have potty mouth tendencies, but comparatively speaking, I’m basically in recovery. Yes, I have the occasional slip with some of the lighter four-letter wonders, but isn’t that to be expected of a long-time violator? And in fits of hostility I’m still known to fly the f-bomb like a flag of war but road rage and the stupidity of mankind often does that to a gal. I’m quite certain that even Mother Teresa threw about some heavy ones when faced with the DMV or snarled in a Calcutta traffic jam. I’m not justifying my failures; I’m simply admitting that I am occasionally powerless against them.
Perhaps it’s part of the recovery process but more likely, it’s really just a sure sign of entering the geriatric era - I am a mere weeks away from the Big One- regardless, I’ve recently developed intolerance towards foul language. I know! I was equally shocked. It started while reading an assortment of parent-centric blogs. Every time I’d see a hostile parent lament their daily deliberations with a nice dose of profanity, my teeth would clench, my shoulders tighten and a judgment would take over me. Then it moved on to the Turk. While my very traditional husband despises profanity in his native tongue, he drops the f-bomb and a few choice bits of English profanity like a rock star. With every heavily accented f-bomb that flies from his lips, my face scrunches up like a white, female, Fred Sanford and I feel those tingles I’ve come to associate with the birth of yet another gray hair that Miss Clairol and I will be forced to battle. I point to the child – give the wide-eye- pursed -lipped look- point to the child again – offer bugged out eyes –point to child – give the what-are-you-thinking look until The Turk nods in understanding. Generally this takes 10 to 15 minutes as communication is not generally our forte. But it’s worth it to quell my mind full of horrific visions of my darling son reporting to his preschool class that he’d had a “f***ing great weekend.”
My cause for alarm is legitimate. The Midget is an uncanny sponge. He was a mere 2 years old and playing with his Hot Wheels when, at what appeared to be a crucial moment in the delivery of a truckload of hot rods, a flood of class A potty words spewed out of his tiny little toddler mouth, each word tainted nicely with a thick Turkish accent – just like his father’s.
While I’d like to let the world believe that The Turk is solely responsible for the corruption of our son from innocent Midget into 3 foot trash talker, I’m not completely blameless. My afore mentioned Oprah moment played out something like this:
- A hairy moron in a tow truck forced me into an unfortunate traffic pattern during a Philadelphia rush hour.
- In retaliation, I lobbed a beautifully crafted series of profanity toward his open window.
- That same series of profanity was accurately recreated in a sweet toddler voice with a hint of Midwestern twang, directly from the backseat.
That was the moment that led me to get clean. Ok, first that moment led me to swap to Turkish profanity but The Midget soon demonstrated a fluency and nearly sent the Turk’s mother into cardiac arrest during a Skype visit. So I eventually deemed it in the best interest of my child to go clean - bilingually. Unfortunately, I think my change of heart came a bit too late for The Midget. By the time he was 3 he’d already solidified ‘damn’ as his word of choice.
Sitting at a restaurant, “I need some more damn wings.”
In the potty, “Can someone come and wipe my damn butt.”
Playing in the sandbox, “I can’t find a damn shovel.”
In the car, “Why did that damn light turn red?”
I tried to explain that we don’t use that word. I tried to make it unsavory. I tried to sway him to the straight path but so far he isn’t budging. “But Mom, I like to say damn. It’s fun to say and it’s what I mean so I will keep saying it.” Were I a young mom, I might see the humor in this or I might be capable of ignoring this variety of pediatric profanity. But alas, as we’ve established above, I’ve developed an old person aversion to foul language and I must find a way to unsow the seeds I've previously sown. I must remain clean in the hopes that my child will follow my lead.
Even though like a reformed smoker, I have an intense aversion to my former vice, I still struggle with the daily calling. It’s hard to say ‘darn’ when your heart means ‘damn’. It’s not satisfying to say ‘forget it’ when your soul is beating with a f-bomb. It’s hard to walk away from something that was such a part of you but if Betty Ford can do it, so can I. And soon, I well lead my whole damn family to a profanity-free life as well. Ah…who the hell am I kidding?