Cursing is one of those interesting gray areas of life. It’s up there with picking your nose, and not washing your hands after using the bathroom. Everyone does it, but no likes to admit it. At least not in “certain” company (school, church, in front of someone you’re trying to impress…)
Two events caused me to think about this more in-depth. The first is a bill in Arizona that would punish teachers for cursing in class. Apparently some poor parent was traumatized (my version) because a teacher had gone UNPUNISHED (publicly flogged or forced to wear a scarlet F) after using “THE F WORD” (my emphasis). The bill dictates three swears would lead to a week off with no pay and five would lead to being fired.
NOW LET ME TELL YOU! I have kids who swear in class on a daily basis — not as much as when I taught an alternative class — but probably 3 to 5 words. Tell me what the reaction would be if we denied a child access to education based on swearing. Uhm, we wouldn’t. Not casual or causal swearing. Aggressive swearing… maybe. However, I’ve been called a bitch numerous times by kids younger than 10 and don’t think twice about it. Really, it’s just a word. Firing someone for the use of a word is ignorant. Firing them for not being in control, professional, and appropriate are appropriate reasons. This… not so much.
This is not to say that swearing, by teachers or students, should be acceptable. However, no one should be legislating such things because I’m pretty sure kids learn swear words AT HOME. Oh, yes they do. Don’t even act like the first time they heard a bad word was at a friend’s house. (or at school)
I know because…
One of the kindergarten teachers was talking about how many “bad” words her students use. “Where would they learn that?” she cried. “Uhm, their parents.” I replied rather nonchalantly. How do I know? Because I swear. Like a drunken sailor. With Tourette’s (it’s a joke, get over it). When Keb was little, at one point I was put onto a swearing jar. He explained, “You no say fuck Mommy. Fuck a bad word.” He was right. On my worst day he and Lynette got me for something like $5-$7 dollars. I hated both of them, but I learned to tone it down.
I still swear. I’m just more judicious about it. More careful.
Now the other story about my swearing is from Keb’s daycare. It was brought to my attention that Keb had sworn at someone. The teacher felt that it should come to my attention because I was a swearer, and obviously, teaching my child to swear. So I asked, “What did he call S?” “He called him a stupid ass.” Cue very perplexed face. “Stupid ass, as in adjective noun, not as in adjective only. For example, a stupid-assed idea.” “No,” I was told, “He called S a stupid ass.” “OK, I’ll talk to him.” I said, knowing that this was NOT my fault. I use any and all versions of “fuck” liberally. I will use bastard. Sometimes I use shit. Not often. Taed will say shit if something bad happens, but that’s it. “Ass” was not part of my lexicon.
Keb and I talked about it, and how name calling is never appropriate, no matter what the term. I continued to puzzle over calling someone a swear word because I don’t do that. I mean I might call someone a “fuckwit” from time to time, but not in person. That’s just rude.
About a week later I was at school talking to another mom. I happened to mention Keb’s little incident. She looked at me, and without one hint of irony or even “OH MY GOD!” she said, “That’s interesting. That’s what I call my husband.” (I raised my eyebrow) Really?
Obviously her daughter had learned from her, brought it to school, and used it. Because Keb was and is ADD, he would just go ahead and use the term without being sneaky or subtle. Plus, he was an easy kid to tattle on.
However, because her daughter was a girl, and the family played politics better than mine, my child was the bad kid who swears and hers was the sweet little darling. Like Mr. Chew that one. It’s an important lesson, though. You teach your child no matter what and use these events for blog fodder.
Recap: Swearing occurs; parents teach their kids; kids use it when adults aren’t around; faux swears are now common due to TV and movies; we could all use to clean up our language; and don’t over-react.
However, for that parent whose child is “young and impressionable”, get a life. It’s not the first time she heard that. I promise.