Stop Fucking Swearing!

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Malcolm Stories

Kids learn to swear. It’s part of growing up, like losing teeth or learning to feel ashamed of your private parts. Kids see how deliciously wicked swearing is and are attracted to it like moths to the crack pipe. When you swear, you are a complete bad ass, and since you can’t really get a permanent tattoo of a hot woman writhing around on a car when you are in preschool, most of your rebelliousness manifests itself as dropping dirty words around the play yard.

Today on a very special episode of Big Daddy Paul, "When good kids go bad..."

Kids learn to swear from many different sources. If you are like me, you spend most of your time following rules of polite society, but the one time your kid throws your Iphone in the toilet and you yell, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”, it makes an impact. Even if, however, you have the tongue of a priest (a sober one, at least) there are many people in your life that won’t. For all your hard work in biting your tongue when your toddler bites you in the back fat, there will be a drunk relative or forgetful friend that swears like a sailor. (Or, you may just know a sailor!) Will chaining your kid to the water heater in a convent keep them from hearing dirty words? Not if they go to school! Kids will learn most of the dirty words they know from other kids. You can choose to believe that when kids are huddled around the corner of the school playground they are talking about favorite cotton candy flavors, but you’d be wrong. They are bargaining in obscenities, which, I assume mostly consists of who can use the F-word the most in a sentence. Not surprisingly, Malcolm has had fits of of his own F-Bomb usage.

As any reader of this blog knows, I rather enjoy swearing. As such, I cannot in good conscience forbid Malcolm from swearing. I am, however, mortified of the following conversation taking place at school:

Polite child:        “Malcolm, it’s my turn to play on the monkey bars.”

My Child:            “Fuck off shitstain, this playground is all Malcolm, all the time!”

I want Malcolm to know that there is a time and place for most things in life. It’s OK have dessert on Friday night at a restaurant; Nutella for breakfast? Not so much. This means that I focus my attention on the subject about what happens at school. Every do often, I talk to Malcolm about what words are OK for him to use at school. Lately, this is where I have been struggling the most.

Obviously, George Carlin’s seven filthy words are off limits (although in the sanctity of your own home it might be pretty funny for your toddler to say “Motherfucker” just once.) But how about words like “Suck” or “Balls?” If you ask the FCC whether these words are obscene they would say, “No,” but your kid doesn’t seem all that charming if he tells you in front of a group of parents that you suck for making him leave. Where do you stand on “Crap,” “Damn” or “Douche?” The list of words in profanity purgatory is long and fraught with peril.

Another group of words that are difficult to police are words like,”Friggin” or “Hecka” that are obvious replacements for more profane words. I can applaud the effort, but in my mind when used I do not think, “This kid’s not a sailor.” I think, “This kid’s a chickenshit sailor.” Does using an obvious replacement word get you anything?

Overall, the one thing I can say about our approach to Malcolm’s swearing is that it has been remarkably consistent. Every time he swears, we laugh. When he gets a bad hand at cards, and says, “Oh crap!” we snicker into our sleeves. He was breaking down fantasy football match ups earlier this year and told me that Peyton Hillis was a good play because Indianapolis’s run defense “sucked.” I couldn’t stop giggling. Amy’s response to Malcolm’s use of the word “Fuck” at the airport was to turn her head while laughing and think to herself, “Paul is gonna die when he hears this!”

Does this send the right message? No. Could we handle it better? Yes. Are we going to? Probably not, at least for now. To us, there is something pretty funny about a swearing child, mostly the shock value of a sweet kid saying some really unsweet things. One day, it may become tiresome to hear his potty mouth. But for now, we are just enjoying the ride.

Do any of you have any good stories about your kid swearing?

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One response to “Stop Fucking Swearing!”

  1. Boneist says:

    Not a story about my child, but about my dad’s tactics when it came to swearing (although I was a good deal older than Malcom at the time!).

    Any time I used a swearword in his presence (which was rare, to be honest!) he’d say “Do you know what that word actually means? No? Well, perhaps you shouldn’t use it until you do.”

    This had the bonus side effect of making my brother and I very adept with a dictionary!

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