Tag Archives: children swearing

A Shameless Mom

21 Mar

Lately, my son and I have been watching the Showtime series, “Shameless,” together. He’s not a very demonstrative kid. He hasn’t kissed me since he was eight and has to be coerced into giving me a hug. So, when he voluntarily bonds with me over something, I welcome the opportunity. We’re having a good time watching the show together, talking about the characters, loving the songs and downloading our favorites. The problem is, deep inside, I feel like I’m a bad mother for letting my son watch what is clearly a series for adults.

I’m sure other parents wouldn’t allow their teenage children to watch “Shameless.” It’s loaded with graphic sex. The characters smoke pot. The father is an unrepentant alcoholic and a con artist. The children do whatever they need to get by, including stealing an entire truckload of meat. There is, in short, everything to which a child should not be exposed. I remind myself that my son has the digital version of girly magazines and that he regularly locks his bedroom door to, I’m sure, avail himself of them. Still, every time my son and I watch “Shameless,” I feel I’m a bad influence on my own child.

Certain of my son’s friends’ parents would agree. I’m thinking, in particular of the parents of one of my son’s closest friends. His parents are fine, upstanding people. They would never let their children watch “Shameless.” On the contrary, I’m sure they only watch wholesome family shows. They probably have a boxed set of “The Waltons.” I’ll bet they don’t allow girly magazines, digital or otherwise, in their house. I’m pretty sure they are a little intimidating to their son. Hell, they intimidate me.

My husband thinks I’m insane when I tell him I’m a bad influence on our son. He points out that our son has similar values to ours. We happen to think our values are pretty good ones, though they are rather to the left of many of our neighbors. Our son’s friends were amazed to hear that he sometimes—ok, often—uses the “F” word at home but he is not allowed, under any circumstances to use the “G” word. Recently, a friend of his posted, “Are you gay?” on his Facebook wall in response to something our son posted as his status. Our son responded, “Why, yes, I’m pretty happy right now.” My husband and I were pleased. His friend was confused.

I worry about different influences with my daughter. She’s become quite sassy lately and has developed what my parents called a “smart mouth.” I never really understood that phrase. Wasn’t very smart of me to use it. It always got me in trouble.

I’ve been trolling other mommy blogs, scoping out the competition, particularly those who’ve managed to turn their rambles into cash. On one such blog, I found moms complaining about their own children’s smart mouths. They attributed the phenomenon to “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and its sequel, “The Suite Life on Deck.”

As in many shows targeting children, the characters in the “Suite Life” series sass talk the largely incompetent adults. It never occurred to me that the show might be a bad influence other than to convince my daughter we should be living on a cruise ship.

I started tracking her behavior following episodes. Damned if her mouth didn’t get smarter almost immediately after viewing a half hour of the show. I decided to follow the blog moms’ prescription and encourage exposure to a different sweet life.

The remedy was The Food Network. According to the blogosphere, kids eat up cooking shows. So we tried Food Network for a while. My children have never watched a television show that I didn’t watch with them the first time. This means I’ve suffered through Telly Tubbies, SpongeBob, Dora, Bob the Builder, Imagination Movers and some strange thing called “Bobobo-bo Bobo-bo.” I’ve pulled the plug on a number of requested programs but what I saw on Food Network was truly frightening.

I try to eat a healthy diet and encourage my children to as well. I buy lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, low-fat milk, yogurts. My son routinely spits them out then buys the junk he prefers with his allowance. I’ve pointed out to him that he is literally crapping his money away, but it doesn’t faze him. He won’t walk his dog, but he’ll walk ten minutes to the local Walgreen’s when he’s jonesing for a Mint Milano.

I’m particularly interested in teaching my daughter the importance of healthy food choices. She’s got more holes in her teeth than a block of baby Swiss and a sugar habit that’ll keep Willy Wonka in top hats for the next ten years. But thanks to Food Network she now has recipes for pink lemonade layer cake, corn chowder chock full of heavy cream and brownies the size of The Hulk’s fist.

I should have known better than to flip the channel to Food Network. I once witnessed Paula Deen cook a juicy hamburger, top it with cheese and a fried egg then place the whole works between Krispy Kreme donuts. Paula says she doesn’t eat that way every day, but geez, eating that way once is bad enough.

Paula’s not the only bad influence on FN. The Neely’s lay on the sugar and fat in ways that make their corpulence make sense. And have you seen Ina Garten lately? I’m loath to say it, but she is morbidly obese. I’m loath to say it for two reasons. First, I realize obesity is a complex problem. Second, Ina is apparently a very nice lady and has lots of fans that flame anyone who criticizes her weight. But Ina’s health and temperament are not my concern. My daughter is back to watching “The Suite Life on Deck.”

I feel a little bit better about my parenting lately. My son’s friend had dinner at our house. The dinner conversation ranged wildly from my son’s condom sandwich caper at school to the shows the boys watched when they were younger. The friend was gob smacked to learn that I not only knew the names of the shows my son watched, but I actually watched them. When I said, “What was up with the hair on that Bobobo guy?” his friend said, “Wow. My parents never watched anything I watched.”

“Woooo hoooo,” I thought and gave myself a mental pat on the back. Finally, something I can be parentally smug about. My son may make sandwiches with condoms in them. My daughter may clap her hands together and say, “Breakfast! Now!” But I’ve approved every bit of media they’ve consumed. It is definitely something to feel gay about.

 

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Potty Mouth

20 Dec

I really like the movie, “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” It’s a sweet movie starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell that follows the love stories of four (more?) couples. Some time ago, I suggested it as a good family movie to watch with my adult sibs, my mom and dad and my grandmother. Everyone was on board for watching the movie. It started and, within two minutes, my mother was so offended she had her arms crossed over her chest and her lips firmly set in a pinched, hard line.

I forgot that the first five minutes of dialogue consist of one word, the “F” word, repeated many times, in many variations, as Hugh Grant’s character realizes he’s overslept and is about to be very late for a friend’s wedding. I identified with the opening scene, finding it very real. My mom found it really distressing and immediately labeled the film, “Dirty.” I recall she glowered at me. I knew I was f . . .acing an angry mother.

My mother didn’t swear much. I swear a lot. Actually, I swear a lot less than I used to. Working in a preschool will do that to you. I have to admit to thinking it’s pretty funny when a four-year-old looks in her backpack and says, “Sh-t!” Her companion then says, “What’s wrong?” “I left my indoor shoes at home,” she says. But, being the roll model that I am, I have always said, “We don’t say those words in school. Can you think of a better word to use when you’re frustrated?”

My problem is that I can’t think of a better word to use when I’m frustrated. The “S” word is perfect for those times when you just want to kick yourself in the behind for doing something stupid, like forgetting your indoor shoes. It’s a short word, so you get it over and move on quickly. It has an opening sound that you can draw out as long as you want and then a completely satisfying final consonant. Indeed, a very useful word.

As much as she hated swearing, my mother wasn’t above using it herself. She had some creative constructions, but my clearest memory of her swearing was over a sewing project. She was making a dress for either my sister or me. There was a particularly difficult seam that was refusing to cooperate. She sewed it and tore it out at least three times. Finally, she got it right, only to discover she had sewn the garment to her own. What did she say? She said, “Shit!”

I would have said the “F” word. While I find the “S” word quite useful, the “F” word is my go-to word for extreme frustration and/or pain. Accidentally poking myself with a pin will get the “S” word out of me. Sewing something to my own clothing by mistake after trying to get the darn thing right for an hour? That’s going to get the “F” word out of me every time.

I’m also not likely to say “darn.” I use the “D” word, usually when referring to our cat, Oliver. Oliver is the worst cat who ever lived. Oliver wants only canned food and he wants it three times each day. If he does not get his canned food when he wants it, he breaks something. He has broken three teapots, numerous plates and bowls and all but two out of 12 coffee mugs. I call him, “the damn cat.”

I used to call him “the god-damned cat.” I stopped using “god damn” some time ago, realizing it could be offensive to some of my more religious friends who frown upon taking God’s name in vain. But, I’ve been rethinking my line of reasoning. I seem to recall learning that no one knows God’s name. If no one knows his name, then how can one take his name in vain? I’m not buying that God’s name is “God.” That’s like saying my dog’s name is “Dog.” If I found out that God’s name was “Fred,” then I could say “the Fred-damned cat” and my friends who worship Fred would be quite right in being offended.

My father believes that he knows God’s name. He told me, “It’s Harold.” “Harold?” I said. “Yes, you know, ‘Harold be thy name’.” “It’s ‘hallowed’, Dad,” I said. He was not deterred. Nothing, I have found, can keep a dad from making a Dad Joke. Having failed with Hallowed Harold, my dad said, “His middle name is ‘Andy’.” Almost afraid to ask, I said, “How’s that, Dad?” My dad began singing, “And he walks with me . . .”

Naturally, my children have used swear words and it is invariably blamed on me. My husband claims not to swear. I know he does, but I do it more, so he hides behind my foul mouth. The impact of my potty mouth was brought home to me in a stop at McDonald’s. It was summer. I was in the drive thru, unhappily waiting for a Happy Meal. My then four-year-old son had gotten wise to my “McDonald’s is closed” ploy. The food was not ready, so I was told to pull ahead and wait. First, however, I let the little old lady cross in front of my car to her own. The guy in the car behind me laid on his horn. I, ever mature as we know, shouted out my window, “What should I do, run her over?” He, even more mature than I, said, “Yeah!” to which I said, “Oh, go f— yourself.” From the back seat, my son added, “Yeah, you go f— your goat.” How he knew the man had a goat, I will never know.

Since then, I have tried to curb my evil ways, but tell my children that certain words are “adult” words and that, when they are adults, they can choose to use them. My son, almost an adult now, practices on an hourly basis, throwing in some really disgusting phrases that, while they contain no profanity, are, well, really disgusting. I have learned to ignore him.

My daughter brought me up short the other day when she asked, “Mommy, are you a pussy?” I choked back my immediate response and said, “Oh, dear, you must never use that word” and explained why. The first thing that came to my mind, though, was, “Hell, no! Mommy is hard core!”

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