I love to swear. There is no other way to say it. I’ve got a mouth that could rival that of a bartender at a biker bar on a late Saturday night. And honestly, I’m not sorry about it. It’s not because I lack a better or more sophisticated vocabulary. It’s because nothing hits quite like a well-placed F-bomb.
I am expressive, and I like my statements to have a little punch. Plus, I live for sarcasm and shock humor. And except for needing to police myself a bit around my mother-in-law over the years, my swearing has been without issue. Until now, because I am currently realizing that my bad (and adult) habit has rubbed off on my four kids. Sh*t.
It started a while ago. My kids’ ages currently range from 2 to 10, and I remember clearly my oldest yelling, “Oh my f*cking God” from his car seat when someone beeped their horn at me in traffic. And actually, I kind of thought it was funny. Of course, I didn’t let him know that, and he didn’t do it a lot — but occasionally, he would drop a super well-placed swear in the perfect scenario, and I have to admit, I was entertained.
I mean, there is something wildly innocent about a toddler repeating stuff they don’t fully understand, like my current 2-year-old calling my father a dumbass when he takes her last bit of muffin. She knows she’s upset, and wants to fully express that to him. And she doesn’t technically know that dumbass is a swear word, so like, she’s kind of off the hook, right? And again, I am of course reprimanding and teaching my kids in the moment, not outwardly laughing and showing encouragement. But definitely laughing on the inside. I can’t help it!
Well — shocker — toddlers grow up to be big kids who are a little less innocent and not quite as adorable. Habits formed early and cultivated through the years tend to stick and get worse. So here I am, my 8 and 10-year-olds dropping very intentional swears, and it hits differently. It is no longer some mistakenly repeated phrase in an adorably high-pitched voice. It’s purposeful, sometimes sarcastic, and often under-the-breath. It’s disrespectful and inappropriate, and damn it, it’s my fault.
So last week, when my 10-year-old called his brother a piece of sh*t just a couple of hours after my 8-year-old called his pre-practice routine “really fucking annoying,” I lost it. And I only had myself to blame.
Well, maybe that's not entirely true. My 10-year-old spends a lot of time with kids in school and on teams, some a year or two older than him, some with older siblings, whose chatter often feels more “teen” than “kid.” I overhear all of them together, testing the waters with certain curse words, trying them out and seeing what kind of reaction they produce. Swear words are peppered into the music he listens to and the YouTube videos he (sneakily) watches. So yeah, I clearly can’t shield him from all the world’s swearing, but I think I should try to minimize contribution a bit.
So, moving forward, I will make a concerted effort to tame my potty mouth for the sake of my budding children and their reputations. It won’t be easy, because it is woven so deeply into my daily vernacular (see — great vocabulary!), but I am going to try. My mother-in-law will love it.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.