Sunday, January 15, 2012

Potty mouth...or just appropriately verbally expressive?

I made a big mistake a few weeks back, Batman. I let on to one of my classes (granted, my favorite class, not that teachers are supposed to have favorites...but we do) that at one point in my past, I said the f-word during a class. It was an accident, and it was with eleventh graders, so they were about as fazed by it as they would have been by me stopping to scratch my nose mid-sentence. To eighth graders, however, this is an admission akin to "I once skinned a baby bunny in the middle of a room of kindergarteners." I was immediately asked if I might ever swear in front of their class; I assured them that if I ever did, it would not be on purpose, and that as a teacher I always do my best to restrain myself. Granted, they also know that I am not an angry - or easily angered - person, so it's not like I'm constantly at the brink of flying off the handle. This has not stopped them from requesting - regularly - that I swear in front of them for some special occasion, or on the last day of school, or right before the holidays, or as a reward for good behavior. Really, guys? Hearing me say "fuck!" is all the incentive you need to behave, do your work, try your hardest on a test or quiz...? I just don't get the fascination.

This has gotten me thinking. During the holidays, we were at a party that was reasonably heavily populated by parents of children under the age of three, many of whose offspring were present. Your Dad, bless his heart, did very little to restrain his current level of *ahem* verbal expression. I naturally go on alert when I'm around kids, and save for one shameful time when I loudly said "son of a BITCH!" in front of some friends' seven-year-old, I'm usually quite good about keeping my language rated PG. Naturally, with a handful of toddlers roving around, I started to get a little twitchy anytime your Dad peppered an enthusiastic statement with a less-than-kid-friendly word, but I'm left wondering...when does it really start to matter?

I learned recently that MY Dad's first word was "fuck." Aside from giving me a whole new level of respect for both him and his parents (who are all pretty damn awesome people to begin with), I realized that this was charming and hysterical to me, not repellant and shameful. I mean, clearly I'm okay with using profanity: look at half my post titles...and almost everything I say when excited, annoyed, hungry, I'm one of those people who finds it absolutely hysterical to hear a small child say something typically considered inappropriate, not one who finds it abhorrent and a dreadful reflection upon the parents. Will I care about swearing in front of you? My knee-jerk reaction is "fuck no, especially considering the crazy shit we'll be going through in the beginning," but my soon-to-be-suburban-Mommy instinct wonders "goodness gracious, perhaps I should learn to recalibrate my linguistic selections?"

I'm honestly thinking that you will hear pretty much the same language your Dad and I use now until we realize that you specifically understand what we're saying, and even then it won't necessarily stop, we'll just be sure to demonstrate appropriate use and context...then have real conversations about why certain words are okay (or not) at certain times. I figure this will be much like nudity. Between baths, changing clothes (yours and ours), and just living in the same space, I fully expect that we'll end up naked in front of one another a fair amount. Obviously, that will get cut off between you and me by a reasonable age, but I fully expect that we will need to - at some point - discuss the appropriateness of being nude at certain times, but not others, and of only being naked in front of or around certain people. Likewise, while it is okay to say "crap!" when you drop something at home, we'll do our best to make sure you know it's not okay to say at school...or in the grocery store...or to your Dad's Nanny (but my Bubbe, on the other hand, would probably find it precious, so that's cool)...or what have you.

Weeks later - possibly even months now - that group of students are hounding me every chance they get about dropping an "f-bomb" in front of them, so much so that I've started saying "oh, ffffffffive more days until the weekend..." or "it's really fffffffffffreezing cold outside today!" just to mess with them. I know that if some stodgy parent or annoyingly crusty teacher caught wind of this, I could end up in some degree of hot water, but I think it's only fair for kids to have truly realistic fulfillment of their demands and desires. What? It's not like I'm saying anything even vaguely inappropriate, and besides; they're totally asking for it. Little fuckers.

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