My Kid Has a Potty Mouth (and He Got It From Me, Dammit)

by Stacey Gill
Originally Published: 
A woman holding on to the steering wheel of her car and screaming

I love cursing. I do. There’s nothing more cathartic, liberating and enjoyable than letting loose a string of expletives. I love the release I get from throwing down some f-bombs, and there are certain situations in which screaming “Shit!” is just a reflexive response. No other word can capture the moment quite as precisely as that lone, four-letter one.

Of course, I don’t curse as often as I’d like because I’m aware there’s a time and a place, and I don’t want to appear rude. I reserve cursing for more private situations, like with my husband at home. The only problem is my kids live there.

For a good long while I held my tongue. Or at the very least, I was exceedingly cautious as to when I unleashed the torrent of obscenities so my kids wouldn’t overhear. It was a difficult struggle for me, but I endured it for the children. As time went on, though, I found it increasingly onerous to squash my natural tendencies. As mothers, we are asked to give up so many things for our children — the late nights out, the drinking, the fun, our whole lifestyles. And I sincerely tried to give up the cursing as well. It just didn’t take. To me, spewing profanities comes as naturally as breathing. Expletives, I believe, allow me to best express myself. And, honestly, there’s no other time in life when the need for cursing is as greater as after you have kids. Tell me that isn’t a kick in the teeth.

So I found myself occasionally slipping up. It started out with a damn and a hell, but we all know those are just the gateway curses to shit and fuck. Eventually, I couldn’t stop myself. As the kids grew, so did my repertoire of expletives. The profanities were so enmeshed in my vocabulary that they just came falling out whenever the kids pissed me off, which was frequent.

And I discovered something. Profanities can be quite effective.

Sometimes a, “Dammit, Jack, I told you no more Skittles” gets your point across more readily than, “Now what did I say about snacks before dinner?” really can. A succinct, “Your ass is grass” conveys your dissatisfaction better than, “I’m really not pleased with your grades right now” ever will. And, a nicely placed, “You’re full of shit” tends to express your feelings more accurately than a, “I have difficulty believing your iPhone broke all on its own when I found it in your pants pocket after I removed the laundry from the dryer.”

At first, I had reservations about my language, but then I thought, Fuck it. This is who I AM.

I’m not saying cursing is always the answer, and I do try to use it sparingly around the kids. You don’t want it to lose its punch. And, I did have concerns about the kind of example I might be setting. Obscenities coming out of the mouths of 12-year-olds are not cute. But I know my kids curse. They’re at the age when all kids start cursing, and they, too, must learn there’s a time and a place when it can be used. That time and place is not around me or in public. It may be a bit of a double standard, but that’s OK. I’m the adult, so I can make the rules.

In many, many areas I’m a careful, prudent and responsible parent. I make sure my kids get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet and do all their homework and brush their teeth and do their chores and treat others with respect. This is just one area where I fall short. And I fucking don’t give a shit.

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