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September 15, 2009

J.D. and I started playing a little game about a month ago. The end goal was originally to clean up our language and protect our son’s virgin ears from friggin’ shoot.

Just to be clear, curse words in our household have only ever served to punctuate violent emotions or act as pain incarnate. They have not held verb and/or noun status.

And also for the record, I never once swore during my labor with James even though my pain enjoyed a living breathing existence for fifteen hours straight. J.D. is quite sure I did swear but he is also quite sure I threw up all over him. You’ll have to forgive his memory. There was very little air in that delivery room.

So, we started a game where if I swear, J.D. gets a point and vice versa. Once one of us has twenty points he or she gets to blow a ten percent cut of this years tax return, which happens to be quite sizeable as we are still living in a parallel universe of professional income and tuition tax credits. Roughly, each curse is worth forty dollars, which really takes the zing out an f-bomb when you know you could have bought a decent pair of pants instead.

So far I have five points. Well done J.D., this game has clearly served its purpose in your life.

J.D. has eighteen points and is starting to shop around for mountain bikes.

He got the last three points over a twenty four hour period. During this twenty-four hour period we discovered that the cats had urinated on all our stuff in the basement. I guess they were having a hard time with the disorganization, and felt that a little bit of urine might provide the motivation we needed to put our crap away. Let me tell you that a little bit of cat urine provided us with the motivation we needed to throw all our crap in the backyard and light it on fire. And also to expel one hundred and twenty dollars worth of swear words.

J.D. once suggested I come up with a replacement exclamation that isn’t a curse but that fulfills the need. I have yet to find a set of replacements that punch the air like the originals. J.D was super helpful until it became clear he was going to win. Now when I use one of his suggested replacements, he asks if I’m sure I don’t want to say something else. Something a little more satisfying, perhaps?

I was hesitant to admit the necessity of this game on the blog since I have never heard my mother swear, not ever. I have never heard her fart either. I may not actually be her biological daughter.

Anyway, I was motivated by this blogger’s post about parental potty mouth – which is a little less censored than my post so a word of caution to the sensitive.

I feel better knowing that I’m not the only parent out there polluting their children’s developing vocabularies.

If you happen to be one of those mythical parents, MOM, that never swear: wow. If you happen to be a reformed pirate parent: HELP ME. Two points left. Two points.

Leave your satisfying suggestions in the comments. If you give me something good, I will donate my last two points to you.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. shalom permalink
    September 15, 2009 5:17 pm

    Hi Claire,

    First of all I just want to say that I really enjoy following your blog; I don’t think I’ve missed a post since you before you changed from blogspot. Your blog often provides my daily dose of comedy, which is conspicuously absent in my day to day work here in Colombia, and for that I thank you.

    Second of all, I wanted to point out one of the “Possibly related posts” which I see wordpress kindly, and automatically, generates for you. One is a relatively recent CNN article entitled “Why Swearing Helps Ease Pain: Benefits of Curse Words”. It contains some very interesting information that could, perhaps, be used to your defense, none the least:

    in Stephens’ study, swearing reduced the perception of pain more strongly in women than in men. That may be because in daily life “men swear more than women,” says Pinker, which could have the unfortunate side effect of dulling the natural painkiller. “[For women] I suspect that swearing retains more of an emotional punch because it has not been overused,” he says.

    Maybe JD’s just sworn out, he’s past the painkilling stage?

    As for substitute words, how about swearing in another language? Mierda! (Spanish for s#¡t), perhaps, or Mierd! (said with a French accent – you’ve got to get that “r” at the back of your mouth). Or you could go with Caramba!, which has a nice ring to it.

    • Claire permalink*
      September 15, 2009 7:26 pm

      Shalom, first of all I am blessed to be your personal comedy supply. Second of all, thank you, I feel MUCH better about my impending loss. I will give your suggestions a shot.

  2. Jaelyn permalink
    September 16, 2009 7:06 am

    Hi Claire, seeing as I am renowed for my less than elegant vocabulary I have no words of wisdom (or reasonable facimile) to offer. On the upside James will hear these words eventually – at least he’ll know the proper context in which to use them.

    Jaelyn

    • Jaelyn permalink
      September 16, 2009 7:06 am

      oops apparently I can swear but not spell….it should be renowned!

  3. Jean permalink
    September 16, 2009 8:54 am

    Claire, I would like to remind you that you used to think your father and I never had arguments either. Presenting yourself to your offspring as a perfect and haloed parent who neither swears nor argues will come easier if you take a short course in method acting. Another very strong motivation for a swearless existence is the first time your child drops Elmo on his foot and yells, “F_ _ _!!”

    Apparently you never suspected what was actually on the pristine tip of my tongue whenever I screamed, “SSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH oot!” I admit that ‘oot’ is not nearly as satisfying as ‘it’ but a heavy, strong, capitalized and majorally extended “sh” is helpful. The longer you hold the ‘sh’, the more time you have to rally the troops and get them and their potty mouths safely ensconced behind bars in your brain fort.

    Another motivation you might consider is to get the count up to 19 quickly and then stay there. You will drive J.D. absolutely FFFFFFFFFriggin’ nuts as he waits and waits and waits to catch you. This may even eventually force a few choice ones out of his mouth in an attempt to remind you of the satisfaction of such words. When a lovely expletive comes to your mind, just think of how J.D. is hovering like a vulture and how disappointed and frustrated he will be as your face turns red and your spine straightens dramatically and out comes:

    “OH MY GOODNESS.”

    You used to yell that one in your sleep. Sniff. My little baby is all grown up.

  4. Stefan permalink
    September 19, 2009 2:58 pm

    Claire! I have a suggestion. A great suggestion, I believe. It’s related to Shalom’s suggestion. But instead of using actual swears from another language, just make up your own! Instead of F*$k, say whatever emotionally charged sounds come to mind in their utterly incoherent manner. Say “yofuzel”, “eep tuju” or “yo yo ma”.

    For your own inner satisfaction, you’ll know that these words are roughly equivalent to what in English we call “swear” or “curse” words (but are actually much much stronger, in fact). But if someone asks you what they mean, well, you made it up! Who knows what they mean? Or they could be equivocal words in your language that depend on circumstance and context. For example, in English, we have the word “tank”. It means an armoured vehicle in some contexts, and it means huge body builder in other contexts. So if you yell “konestra pappooy” at the top of your lungs, and JD asks what it means, well in his case, it means “your hair smells like jelly beans dribbled in honey.” For James, it’s as meaningless as his own vocal manifestations, and for you, it means something much worse than a classic Eminem hip hop rant.

    *PS: Any utterances in your language that happen to phonetically resemble a curse word in English are merely coincidence. For example, in French, “seal” is “phaque.” A perfectly innocent, playful and even child-like word. In English that sounds an awful lot like “f*#k.” Another example is in English, the word beet — a somewhat misunderstood and perhaps even maligned vegetable — sounds far too similar to the dirty French word for the male genitalia. Example abound. You’re in clear waters.

  5. September 24, 2009 7:24 pm

    Oh… I so need help with this, too. I don’t have any game like that going on with my husband, but now that Lily has twice gotten so frustrated with her socks that she now calls them her “F—ing s— socks”… I need to curb my swearing and fast. I remember some annoying guy in a movie suggesting to say “fuuuuucrying out loud”. I find it helps when I’m ready to let loose a big F or S to use up all of my exhale on the first 2 letters. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUdge or SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHoot. Good luck!

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