Warning: profanity ahead. Proceed with caution.
When I was a young mother, I often forgot that my daughter knew how to speak.
Let me clarify.
I knew that at two Violet was old enough to articulate many things. However, I never expected her to repeat everything that came out of my mouth. She quickly developed an incredible memory and took to repeating some of her father’s favorite catchphrases as well.
One day my younger sister and her fiancé brought fast food over for their daughter. They offered Violet some water and fries. When Violet spilled the water, she said abruptly, “Fuck it.” I was proud of her for knowing the context in which to use the colorful phrase. We refrained from laughing openly lest she should be encouraged to use the profanity further.
Later, in the garden, Violet made another, less successful, attempt at swearing. Expressing confusion, she commented, “What the fuck it…?” In her tiny voice. My mother and I looked at each other and burst out laughing.
Other examples of her swearing were not so innocuous in nature. One day, Violet held hands with my sister Heather as they walked through the park. Violet then uttered something akin to “I’m going to put my foot up your ass.” This was something my husband had voiced, only a few times, in a moment of extreme frustration. Apparently, it did not fall on deaf ears.
Then, she started repeating my frequently-used phrase. When I reached my limit, or when my daughter attempted to perform death-defying feats from the couch, I would often blurt out, “Jesus Christ!”
On certain days, Violet repeated this blasphemous phrase. She even incorporated it into her bathtub play with her action figures. “Hello,” Batman ever-so-casually greeted Wonder Woman. “Hello,” Wonder woman kindly reciprocated. “Are you okay?” Batman asked, referring to some recent danger our fairest of Superheroes recently endured. “Phew, that was close,” Wonder Woman replied. “Jesus Christ!”
Now Violet is twelve, and she knows well the difference between good and bad words. She even learned a few from the soundtrack of Hamilton—for example, she did not know that “bastard” was a swear word before she learned the first track. I also had to explain the meaning of the word “whore” to her. So much to learn right in the opening line!
I once considered asking Saint Peter if he could put the penalty for my daughter’s sassy phrases into my column. But honestly, I don’t give a fuck what unearthly figure might judge her about her swearing, because I don’t find it to be sinful.
However, in public, I do ask that she keep the swearing to a minimum. There are far too many children and pious adults wandering around, and I recognize that not everyone shares my liberal view on the subject.
Violet and I recently had a discussion regarding swearing at home, and when she thinks it would be funny or appropriate, she asks, “May I swear?” My usual answer is: of course. Words are words. Don’t get so caught up in them that it binds your full articulation.
But I’m just not one of those moms who won’t let you read a book, or watch a good movie, simply because there’s cussing in it. I believe there is too much to learn in this world without letting something as simple as words get in the way.
Variety of expression enriches our lives, and I refuse to feel guilty for allowing my kid certain freedoms. There are far too many other issues in this world to feel bad about. Dropping the occasional f-bomb is truly inconsequential in the large scheme of things.
So fuck it.