When I was little I was not allowed to swear. Ever. I was not even allowed to say, “Oh my gosh,” because it was the same as taking the Lord’s name in vain. In fact, when I was old enough to have conversations about swearing topics with my friends we would spell out the words, or maybe even just part of the word, because we literally could not get the sound of them past our lips. We would talk about the “s-h word” or sometimes even sound out the beginning of a word, like “daaa” so the other person could figure out that we meant “damn”. We would talk about how the word ass was in the bible and so that it must be okay to say, or at least we wouldn’t go to hell for saying it. Not like actually saying the word hell as in, “What the hell?”
That was one of the first times I remember getting in trouble for swearing. I was in the kitchen and my little sister had brought something in and was showing my dad. I was practicing hand stands and was upside down when I noticed that my sister was holding something. I cannot remember what it was, mainly because of what followed.
“What the hell is that?” I asked my dad, as I tried to kick my legs up in the air.
“What did you say?” Uh oh. Immediate fear of God from the tone of my dad’s voice. I still don’t think I have ever heard my dad swear in my life.
I fell back down to my knees and righted myself. “Um, I said, ‘What the hell is that?’” I could not have been more timid. I knew that there was going to be a consequence.
“Go to your room!” I think this was, literally, the only time in my life when I got sent to my room as a punishment.
I scurried away and waited in my room. I ran through the scenario in my head, the way I knew it would go down. I would get spanked, there is no way that I would not. After all, I swore.
It was probably only 10 minutes before my dad came to see me, felt like an hour. I have no idea what he did in that 10 minutes, but I am pretty sure that he was not a parent who laughed behind closed doors in the aftermath of his child swearing.
“Where did you hear that word?” he asked.
“I have no idea,” I thought, “Everywhere? Is that a good answer?” TV for sure and a multitude of other places. I knew that I had heard my mom swear, especially when she got really mad about something so I blurted out, “Mom?” And braced myself for a spanking. It didn’t come.
“Just because your mother says things like that does not make it okay.”
“I am going to talk to her about that, it is not okay for her to say those words either. If you say it again next time you will get a spanking. Okay?”
Twenty or something odd years later my two and a half year old runs to me, “Mom! Mom! I was in the kitchen and I said, ‘Frick!’ I said it Mom, I did!”
I snicker discreetly behind my hand. I didn't ask her where she heard it. I know exactly where. “Why did you say that sweetie?”
“Because I did Mom. I was in the kitchen and I said, ‘Frick!’ that’s what I said.”
Fighting a smile, I tell her, “Tryn, now that is not a nice word. We shouldn’t say that word, okay?”
“But that’s what I said.”
“I know sweetie, but don’t say it anymore. We shouldn’t say that word. It is not a nice word to say.”
We head over to the kitchen table to begin lunch preparations and she picks up her stickers to continue playing. Out of the corner of my eye I see her accidentally rip a sticker in half, “Oh, frick!”
Haha! I find out I am the parent who laughs behind my daughter’s back when she swears.