Long before I ever became a mom, I knew that swearing would eventually be my downfall as a parent. It’s just so fun to do and it feels good in a way that saying ‘frick’ or ‘shoot’ will never ever achieve.
When I really think about it, I don’t mind if Thumper swears. You can’t tell me you don’t think it’s cute when babies swear. It’s so unexpected and hilarious, mostly because they don’t even know what they’re saying. It’s even better when they actually say it at the right time. Like when Thumper was trying and failing to put her shoes on by herself and grumbled emphatically, “ah, fuck.” The kid is a genius! A foul mouthed genius, but still. The problem with babies swearing is that they tend to say it in front of the people who will judge you the most for it. So far, Thumper has only said bad words in front of me but I did get a nice death-stare from my mother-in-law when Dawson told her about the time I dropped a book and said ‘eff!’ and Thumper proved she knew what I didn’t say by saying it for me.
When you get down to it, we think swear words are bad because someone told us they were bad. Because really, what harm do they do? They can be hurtful, yes, but so can words that are not considered profanity. You could tell me I look fucking stupid when I wear my hair in a side ponytail and I would cry. Would I cry any less if you had simply said ‘you look stupid?’ Nope. Both are mean. And I understand that in most contexts, swear words are used to hurt people and that’s not okay to do. But you have to admit that, in instances when swearing is not intended to harass someone, it can be really funny. What would happen if everyone acknowledged swear words as socially acceptable? I don’t have an answer to this. But I highly doubt the world would implode or explode or that all the teenagers would start fornicating in the streets while people burned cars and stole candy from the grocery store.
Do you know who doesn’t swear? No one. Do you know who does swear? Everyone. Yes, everyone. in. the. whole. world. Even my ninety-four year old, ultra-Catholic, old fashioned Grandma. Do you know what she told me she gave up for Lent this year? Saying the word ‘shit.’ TRUE STORY. And she didn’t even make it fifteen minutes without saying it, let alone forty days. Maybe you say ‘oh fudge,’ or ‘what the dickens’ or even ‘that’s bloody ridiculous,’ but they’re all just substitutes for something worse. Who was this person who deemed it okay to say ‘darn’ and not okay to say ‘damn,’ and how come he or she got all the power?
What I want Thumper to realize is that there are times when it’s okay to swear and there are times when it’s not. There is no need to swear when wishing someone a happy birthday – provided that you are not doing so sarcastically, in which case it may very well be appropriate to say “happy fucking birthday.” There isn’t really a need to swear when asking a friend to come over and hang out or when writing thank you notes after your wedding. However, if your boyfriend doesn’t come visit you in the hospital because he is busy cheating on you, it might actually do you some good to call him a douchebag and tell him to fuck off when he finally calls. (This actually happened to me once and I did not call him a d-bag or tell him to eff off, but in hindsight, I can tell you that I really, really should have.)
All of this isn’t to say that I am going to encourage Thumper’s potty mouth. Children don’t have the maturity or self-censorship to distinguish when it is or isn’t ‘appropriate’ to swear. Plus, like every other mom in the world, I don’t want to be judged for it. So don’t worry. My little Thumper won’t be the bad seed at school teaching your little Bambi to say motherfucker. I’m sure you can do that all on your own. Because despite how horrified you might be reading this, I know you swear too, bitch.