My Mom’s Expressions
My mom use to say things like that. You’d have a pouting look on your face, she’d say “What’s with the face?” Or there was this one, “Are you crying? I’ll give you something to cry about.” And if you used any bad words, she’d look at you and say, “And this one, with the mouth.”
My mom was raised in upstate NY and since my sister and I spent most of our younger years in Miami, the language translated to that part of of the country. Most of our friend’s moms talked like that too.
Now I get to have this conversation with my son Jake. He seems to have a fascination with cuss words. I first noticed this one night when I watching an episode of Top Chef. The chefs were in the middle of one of those crazy challenges so the bad words were flying and the show had to keep bleeping them out. Our conversation went like this:
Jake: What’s that noise?
Me: The TV show is bleeping out bad words.
Jake: That’s an awful lot of bleeping sounds.
Me: It’s a grown up show with grown ups doing grown up things. Go upstairs, it’s time for bed.
The truth comes out
Jake confessed to me later that week that he knew what they were saying. When he was in 3rd grade, one of his friends told the boys in his class the Top 5 bad words he knew. They huddled together in a stall in the boys room that’s hidden behind the stairs. He said they played a game to dare each other to say them out loud.
I had this image of a cuss-word version of The Christmas Story flagpole scene going something like this: (Jake narrating) I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya. My friend created a slight breach of etiquette by skipping the triple dare and going right for the throat!
Fortunately no one was hurt in this game, but if they did, they now had the vocabulary to accurately express it.
The Battle Continues
The battle continues as I try to get him to stop using these bad words. He’s even tried to invent songs with them, bleeping himself every time he comes to the point when he’s just about to rip one out.
The irony of the whole thing is that I’m quite proficient in the use of obscenities. I can be a lot like the Dad in The Christmas Story:
He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master.
I do my best to watch my mouth when I’m around him and it’s certainly helped clean up the way I talk. Of course, I still have my moments like when I threw out the F-Bomb but Jake wasn’t there that day. It was just me and the dog.
I admit there was this one day when we saw this huge roach in our hotel room. I saw the thing scamper across the floor and I screamed the s-word. Jake did that whiny “Mom” thing and all I could do was say sorry. What else could I say? The thing was the size of my sneaker.
I realize there’s not much I can do but continue to tell him that these words are inappropriate. So until I can figure out how to deal with it, he’ll just keep walking around the house, bleeping himself.