I’ve landed upon it: The foolproof solution for keeping your children from cursing. As with sex, the answer is not abstinence-only education, which only feeds curiosity and overproduction. The answer, as it turns out, is swearing yourself—early and often—around your children.
This appears to breed in them the intuition that swearing—every shit, damn, and fucker—is deeply and irretrievably uncool.
Indeed, my child shies from swearing the way I did from my own mother’s attempts to engage in conversation about the evils of smoking, or the normalcy of periods.
No, from day one, my partner and I have been dropping goddammits and fuckwads without restraint and within earshot of our now-three-year-old. We have been fielding apologies from family members when they accidentally let one slip and assuring them that, truly, it’s alright: the kid has heard worse.
And all along we’ve been ready for the consequence: The gasp from the grandmother or the call from the teacher when the kid inevitably drops a Jesus H over spilled milk. In fact, we’ve welcomed it, believing as we do that the full spectrum of language should be wielded in service of self-expression. Swearing is only a problem if it becomes a crutch, we agreed, and felt ourselves to be very with it—which I now realize is precisely the mom-jean-scent that the firstborn has sniffed out.
I know this because on several occasions already they have had opportunities to swear, have been encouraged to, even; and they have failed to or flatly refused. Their vocabulary, otherwise, is technicolor: sparkling with such gems as “wildebeest,” “meanwhile,” “disappointed,” and “maribou.”
But no swears. Not a one.
Heck where hell would do.
Poop where there might be shit.
Exquisite anatomical accuracy in place of ass.
And so, parents, let rip. Remove this one particular stick from your ass. Because as it turns out, you’re fucking yourself. Repeat after me:
We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all parents are created equally lame.
And that we can take down just about anything in our lameness.
Maybe we should try TikTok next.