I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. That day most parents dread. The day your child says his or her first….swear. My daughter’s first swear was ‘damnit’, which she proudly shouted at the top of her lungs while she jumped on my bed. My son, on the other hand, came right out the gate with the F bomb….not surprising since by the time he was talking, we had become a little lax in the language department.
When our daughter was born, we were very conscious of what we said. We used tame words like ‘oh shoot’ and ‘oh my goodness’ and ‘holy smoke’. We tried to be good roles models in front of the kids. We saved our trashy language for nights out with our friends or safely whispered under our breath, out of range of little ears. As the kids got older, there were slip ups…a cuss here while talking on the phone, a swear while watching the Pats play, or an adult exclamation when injuring oneself. All were followed by a quick apology and a stern reminder that those words were not acceptable for repeating.
Somewhere along the way, the slip ups became more frequent. I am not sure why or when we became less careful with what we said, but it slowly happened. Maybe it was the frustration level of now caring for two overly rambunticious kids, most of the time on my own, or maybe it was the fact that our kids knew it was wrong and very rarely used the swears in their conversations or repeated what they heard. Either way, the problem was there.
We didn’t even realize it was really happening until one day in the car, after my husband said a few choice words to a guy who had cut him off that my daughter spoke up with a question….”Dad, why do you guys swear so much?” OUCH! Busted. Called out by an 8 year old. Not a great feeling.
So we tried to dial it back, be more careful of what we said. We were doing pretty well…or so we thought until another day we were in the car (seems like a lot of infractions happen in the car) and from the back seat we hear my son shout ‘yeah you f@$#% a$@$!’ Silence….yeah, we needed to change a few things.
Shortly after that, the swear jar was born. It was my daughter’s idea to have the jar and she decorated it (a little too enthusiastically I must say). She wanted the fine to be $1 but we negotiated it down to a nickel (didn’t want to go broke the first week) and once the jar was full, the two kids got to split the money. When my husband was the first to slip and surrender his nickel, my daughter and son screamed with delight and danced exuberantly around the living room (they were having a little too much fun with this). We had to tweak it a little since then…the kids were calling us on random words, trying to convince us they were swears in the attempt to con more money out of us. Had to nip that in the bud.
I have to admit it is helping. Today, when my son pooped his pants for the third time, I could have said quite an array of colorful words (believe me, I was thinking them!), but instead, I took a breath said ‘oh my goodness, you pooped your pants…again! Holy smoke, that is stinky!’ and bit my tongue on the rest of what I wanted to say. Maybe I was learning…..or maybe it was that I only had $2 left in my wallet and knew I would need that money for my daily trip to Dunkins the next morning…..the jury is still out.
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