A foul-mouthed father tries to clean up his act.
In the great (and confusing) annals of America’s version of the English language, my ability usually falls somewhere between that of a graduate student in education and long-haul trucker who just finished drinking 64 ounces of coffee and is now stuck in heavy traffic.
Which means my skill set seems to be about average, with maybe some extra credit for occasionally using big words like “juxtaposed,” “apoplectic,” and “bootylicious.”
But when you make your living as a writer and not as a mechanic, pro football player (see: Tom Brady in Green Bay) or a country music star, people usually expect a little more from you, especially when you have two young, impressionable sons who occasionally resemble a parrot and a parakeet with large and somewhat unsavory verbal skills.
Of course, there’s nothing that drives home any potty-mouthed problems you may have like having kids who easily pick up your favorite foul-mouthed catch phrases, and then repeat them after doing things like dropping their chicken nuggets. Thankfully, I’m not the only parent who’s had a “Happy Meal” incident similar to the one musician Rodney Atkins sings about.
“Well then my four year old said a four letter word. So I said, ‘Son, now where did you learn to talk like that?’ He said, ‘I’ve been watching you dad, aint that cool? I’m your buckaroo I want to be like you!’”
This just goes to prove that in the hustle and bustle of modern day life even the best parents occasionally lose their cool, or forget that some very impressionable kids are within earshot. Some of us curse, some of us take the Lord’s name in vain, but we all have those little things we utter to blow off some steam.
I wish I could be as cool as Ernest Hemingway when he accidentally shot himself while fishing one day and uttered “Fornicate the illegitimate!” and “I’ll be of unsavory parentage!” But the reality for me usually involves growling something much more vulgar than “Papa” did whenever I’m wrestling with something exceptionally frustrating like insurance forms, the toaster oven, or small jackets turned inside out and wrapped into pretzels stuffed with hats and non-matching gloves.
And while such temporary outbursts like dropping an f-bomb or saying “Cut the shi…!” rather than “Cut it out!” when attempting to stop a couple of kids-turned-Tasmanian devils from trashing the living room may appease my predominantly Irish blood, it’s not very becoming or very responsible parenting.
So it seems like it’s high time I stop blaming other factors on my potty mouth—like rap music, friends and family, the cat, etc.—and wash it out with some spiritual soap. For there’s nothing like the harsh realities of your piss-poor vocabulary slapping you in the face than hearing your four-year-old’s cute little voice utter: “Oh no! I dropped my f…ing spoon” while sitting at the dinner table.
Laughing is a common response to hearing such a small (and no longer innocent) voice pipe out such statements, but it doesn’t really help. In fact, this type of positive reaction simply reinforces the use of such language, especially when the suppressed laughter causes beer to shoot out one of the parent’s noses.
As nature would apparently have it, there is very little advice on how to handle such situations outside of years of therapy when the children get older. Learning how to handle cursing little kids is just one of the many joys of parenthood neither your parents nor your friends with kids tell you about. They just wait until it starts happening to you and then laugh their (expletive deleted) heads off at you!
Ultimately, though, that’s where the real healing begins, at least according to the experts; people like Eckhart Tolle, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Oprah and three out of four hair dressers. They’ll all tell you the first and most important step is to acknowledge you have a problem. The second most important step is to not stress about it, which is when laughter can help—unlike during the aforementioned dinner table incident.
To help navigate our way through the rough seas of modern day American vernacular, we should all try to be more like Hemingway and replace some of our go-to cursing with stuff like this juxtaposed list of things to say when we’re feeling apoplectic and “bootylicious” just won’t cut it. So here goes:
“Cheese and fries!” “Shiitake Mushrooms!” “Fudge and berries!” “Go Fuddruckers yourself!” “Poop on a stick!” “Goal, dang it!” “H-E-Double Hockey Sticks!” “Fart muncher!” “Adrian Peterson is an ascot fan!” “Eat a Dick …’s Last Resort hamburger!” “Son of a Mother-less Goat!” “Son of a Diddly!” “Fluffernutter!” And, of course, “William Shatner!”
Hopefully, this list helps both parents and their little buckaroos clean up their language. Because it’s about time potty-mouthed people like myself cut the sheep and stopped acting like a bunch of Richard-heads. We all need to stop talking like we drive big rigs for a living—unless that’s what you actually do, in which case please carry on your long standing verbal tradition so the rest of us can at least live vicariously through you bleep-holes!
“Lord please help me help my stupid self.”-Rodney Atkins