Not that I had a gutter mouth or anything, but before I had kids I would occasionally let a choice word or two escape my lips when I was surprised or stubbed my toe or got cut-off by a lousy driver.
However, in trying to set a good example for my children, I’ve had to consciously change my reactions to “Oh My Gosh,” when I’m surprised, and, “Shoot!” when I smash my foot into the door, and, “Nice driving, Stupidhead!” when I get cut off. Yeah, I know, “Stupidhead” isn’t so nice… but it’s a heck of a lot better than what I used to say. Unfortunately, most of these polite curses just don’t carry the same sense of satisfaction as letting a good hearty expletive fly when someone else forces me to swerve off the road and into oncoming traffic.
Not surprisingly, by the time they could speak full sentences, my kids were a veritable encyclopedia of bad words. They quickly learned not to curse in front of me, but they still liked to see how far they could push the envelope.
“Holy sh…..IRT!” my son would exclaim at the TV while giving me a mischievous glance.
“Watch it buddy,” I warned him.
“Shirt! I said Shirt!”
“Yeah I know. But you’re only one consonant away from a Time-Out!”
Five minutes later I stubbed my toe and before I could catch myself, I was a hypocrite.
The kids thought this was hilarious and I realized with some dismay, that after years of using the same old curse words, I desperately needed a new vocabulary to handle those situations where “darn” just didn’t cut it.
Then one day my sister-in-law told me how she’d been making lunch for my nephew and he got really ticked off at her about something. As she stood at the counter cutting his sandwich, she heard him mutter under his breath, “You stupid lunch-maker.” I realized that he had sufficiently cursed her out without really saying anything that bad. Aside from the stupid part, the rest of it was true, and yet he still felt like he’d gotten his anger out.
I thought about how this technique might work in the real world. When I got a lady in front of me with a cart full of food on the express checkout line at the supermarket, I could mutter under my breath, “Thanks for holding up the line, you sneaky-more-than-12-items-checker-outer!”
When the trash collectors hurled my cans into the middle of the street, I could yell from the top of my driveway, “Nice aim you inconsiderate-garbage-can-chuckers!”
And when I bashed my foot, I could yell at the chair, “Ow, you stupid toe-stubbing-counter stool!” Truth be told, I’m not sure with toe a-throbbing that I could be quite so restrained when I cursed out the chair.
Or when the lady in front of me cheats on the express line.
Or when the garbage guys play shot-put with my cans.
I don’t know how my nephew does it, but in the heat of the moment, I just don’t think coming up with alternative forms of expressing my frustration is going to be at the top of my to-do list.
That being the case, maybe instead of working on a new way to curse, I should work on not getting so !@%$#%*annoyed all the time.