This was originally published at skirt.com earlier this week, but certainly appropriate for this audience too!
So, we have a little one in the house. Not so little that she can't understand words, but too little yet to say any of them. This means that we're not entirely sure how many of our bad habits she's picked up on yet. I've been trying to avoid 4-letter words in general - easier said than done I've discovered - and when I'm at home with just her, no problem. When I get caught up in stories or conversations with other adults they still slip in. This didn't use to be a problem for me. I remember spraining my ankle in high school during a volleyball inter-team scrimmage and letting a "crap!" slip out. My teammate looked at the coach and said, "I knew it must've been serious, I've never heard her say "crap" before." I managed to keep my mouth clean through high school and the start of college, and then it slowly deteriorated.
Before Little E came along I had two reasons for trying to clean up my language. As a Christian I don't think it's appropriate for me to be slinging out swear words with the same mouth that I claim to praise One who is holy and perfect. That's a big convictor. Two, from a practical standpoint, it seems lazy. If I can't articulate frustration or annoyance without vulgar language then I need to invest in a Thesaurus. I do understand the argument that my High School College English teacher made for having swearing in literature. "If a man gets his leg blown off in war, he's not going to yell "oh, fudge." That's true and makes sense. And put me in the following quandry yesterday.
Hubby was feeding dinner to Little E in the kitchen when I suddenly remembered something I needed to do. Rather than casually walking into the kitchen, I jolted upright and bolted into the room - hoping, rather than believing, given my recent track record - that I could complete the task before I would forget why I had made such ado to get in there. In the process, I jammed Little Piggies 3 & 4 right into the corner of a chair leg. Full speed + direct contact = pain. This would seem a suitable time to utter a 4-letter friend. Except that it offered me a moment of clarity, and I remembered that Little E was sitting right there. So, out of my mouth flew the lovely and mild expletive of "Fruit flies and stink bugs!"
Then I started laughing (while grimacing - it's a grotesque combination, truly), which made Little E laugh. Why was that the phrase that popped out of my mouth? "Fruit flies and stink bugs", really? That was the best I could do? I thought up one more later that night so I have one in reserve for the next occasion: "Snapdragons and poodle skirts."
Clearly my skills are just developing in this new and glorious world. I'm soliciting other ideas from parents and creative types - bring on the g-rated swearing!