I think swearing is one of the first acts of rebellion for elementary age kiddos. For me, it came just at the end of elementary school, during the summer between fourth and fifth grade. (Oh Mama! You (insert sarcasm) are going to be so proud when you read this one.) My friends and I would walk to the local drug store for penny candy and use every cussword we had every heard along the way. There were a few that we didn’t even really know what they meant, but we were determined to use it during our short 10-block walk.
I have to admit that mouth came back with a vengeance in high school and college. Phrases like, “You talk like a sailor, or You’ve got a mouth like a trucker” didn’t really apply to me. I figured my dad was both a sailor and a trucker, so I could blame genetics or the exposure to certain career paths.
Since those words easily slipped off my tongue, I’m really surprised they never slipped out in a class full of students. During the end of my pregnancy with our oldest, I was working on lesson plans one day after school with my 4th grade team and probably a few “bombs” drop about something, when one of my colleagues told me I was going to have to watch my words once this baby came. I assured her I would and I can proudly state that I have kept it…until recently.
I called my sister once and told her that some phrases would just have a little more impact if I could put a cuss word in there. Pick up your stuff or Damn it! Pick up your stuff! See – the later just sounds more demanding. This is not a habit by any means, or rather this is not a habit that gets vocalized often, but I have to admit, I have now sworn in the presence of my children. Guilty as charged!
The fighting, teasing and high pitched whining has pushed me over the no-swears-edge. Our youngest child literally wakes up in high gear and goes to bed in a slightly slower than high gear speed. (I just like to think that he keeps me on my toes.) At a family get together this fall, number three was on-like-Donkey-Kong. I had asked him several times to stop, calm down, take a breath, go to another room, and even brought out the threats…”You’re going to your room, if you don’t stop!” I’m not sure what pushed me over the edge, but I finally took him into the laundry room and with my teeth clenched and in a very low voice I said, “STOP ACTING LIKE AN ASS!” His eyes were huge! He squared back his shoulders, looked me right in the eye and said, “YOU better tell God you are sorry for that one!”
Months later he still reminds me of the day I called him an ass. I can’t say that I have not been pushed over that edge again, but I can say that when I am angry or frustrated I try to hold those words in more often than not. Some days when they really need to be let out, my husband and his adult ears get to hear them all out of ear shot of our kids.
Ephesians 4: 29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
…I’m work’n on it.