Monday, January 24, 2011


This may come as a surprise, but I have a teeny problem with controlling my temper. On occasion. If provoked.

Yoga and deep breathing are fairly effective for anger management as well as socially acceptable. But nothing soothes the nerves like unleashing a colorful stream of profanity, with a reddened face and a stamped foot. I learned this from my mother, an upstanding Irish Catholic lady who isn't afraid to use the f word if the situation calls for it. Frigging was a favorite of hers, as well. Also, she would call my brother "The Prick of Noon" when he emerged midday from his closet-sized room reeking of alcohol. (Teenage drinking, while not exactly encouraged in our house, was viewed as normal, unlike my desire to become a writer.)

My father was more circumspect. He mostly confined himself to "bloody" although he was not British. Also, if my brother pushed the limits Dad would mutter, while cracking open a can of Schaeffer's: "You have some set on you." For years I puzzled over that expression, and I never heard anyone else use it. It wasn't until I was working at Sassy that my friend and co-worker Mike Flaherty explained that it meant that my brother had a set of brass balls. Which is quite a thing to say to a 12-year-old.

When I got pregnant for the first time, my husband started a crusade to make me stop cursing so I would not corrupt our child. What a pain in the ass. I had already given up coffee and wine for our precious bundle; now this. What had Dalton given up? The S.O.B. put a jar in the kitchen and I was supposed to pay a quarter each time I swore. I told him to fuck off.

But once the baby was born, I realized that it would be embarrassing to have a toddler exclaiming "shit" when he fell down in the playground. I agreed to cease saying the worst curses, so as to set a good example.

Ten years later, we're still working out the kinks. I refuse to classify "crap" as a curse. Dalton refuses to make it neutral. If he chastises me for saying "crap" in front of the kids (as in, "You kids better clean up all this crap"), I am likely to lose my tenuous hold on my temper. I let him have fuck, frigging, shit, ass, etc; I think I deserve crap. Crap crap crappity crap crap.

Dalton, if you are reading this, I have a confession to make. I said "fucking" in front of the kids this morning. This was at 8:15 when you were inside blow drying the frozen pipes. I was standing in the 2 degree cold wearing my coat over yoga pants and a pajama top, about to drive the kids to school because the bus had never come. Our daughter wouldn't put on her gloves because they are "fat." Our son said he thought we had missed the bus when we went inside to get my car keys. That's when I said it. "Are you fucking kidding me?"

I apologize to you, my Brownie troop, our minister, and the kids. And also the lady who was walking her dog by our house when I said it.


  1. So funny! I know I'll have the exact same problem when I have kids. :)

  2. I hear you, sister. I tried to stop using bad words when Josie began to learn language. When she was a baby I'd watch the squirrels outside destroying our garden and I'd run outside and screech at them like a banshee, but I really did try to stop saying the F-word when she was old enough to talk. But when she did start speaking, her word for "squirrel" was "fuggah." You do the math.

    PS My kids go to a crunchy super-supportive public school where "the S word" is "stupid."

  3. I admit to dropping hardcore language bombs now and then.

    I grew up in a very cleanmouthed, gentle, self-controlled family. Once I was an adult on my own, the really bad words became a physical and symbolic outlet for my (rare) utter heights of anger, stress, or fright.

    Alas, love and 24/7 responsibility for two young children has made those utter heights not so rare.

  4. oh yeah.... I have the same problem. One day I was in the Post Office having trouble with a complicated mail request. When the postal clerk could not help me, I got frustrated and the supervisor was called to handle me.
    That's when I started apologizing for using the word fuck so much. I was sorry that the situation had deteriorated to the point that I needed to use such fucking offensive language. I was so fucking sorry I had to leave and try another Post Office where they might actually know how to mail a parcel to a foreign country using the fastest possible method. And I hoped I would not get so fucking frustrated at then next Post Office.

    The next time I went in, I was just as polite and courteous as could be.

  5. Ha ha ha ha ha. This is awesome.

  6. I was chastised by my mother (ok, still am) for using the word pissed: Ex. "I'm so pissed off that pissed is a swear word!"

    I'm surprised to hear that frigging is a swear word. Isn't it the G version of the f-bomb? In my book, classifying frigging as naughty is one step above making pissed taboo.

    Don't get me started on fracking.

  7. Bwah ha! I love this. You definitely deserve "crap".

  8. I love this, too! I found you several months back and was so excited (Sassy was my bible back in the day, and you were kind of my hero) that I was afraid to comment for fear of coming across as some kind of blabbering idiot. But today, on this awful, unbelievably cold, nasty-ass fucking Monday, you make me laugh with your Mike Flaherty reference and your talk of tempers and swearing. I think you're still kind of my hero.
    I try to refrain, or use close-enough words like fricking, but I still have been known to swear like a trucker in front of my kids. I've never heard either of them repeat a single one. And Marjorie, my kids also refer to "stupid" as "the S word"--even my cooler than thou seventh grader.

  9. Great post - my friend's three year oud daughter recently told her to fuck off and she was mortified....Mostly because her daughter learned it from her.

    But I agree, there's nothing like an expletive screamfest to sooth the temper.

  10. I do not plan on having a house devoid of swearing, such as I was raised in. While there's something to be said for abstinence - my 80 y/o mother still loathes "asshole" since it brings up medical textbook visuals for her that the word lost for me in, oh, maybe 1974 - I just don't like handing words that much power. At 6 my boys are still too young to "know their audience" so I am still very much closeted around them. And the 10-y/o girl seems to have somehow drained every scintilla of Puritan blue blood that I harbored in its dormant form - she'll be the one chastising me forever. "Crap" may be her "fuck." And as to "fuck," well that is altogeher The Unutterable.

    I let go of full-throated, angry "Fuck!" a few mornings back, when I slipped and fell chasing down my kids' school bus. Smushed my thumb but good on an icy sidewalk and blackened roadside slush embankment. (I would exempt all things related to the winter season and school buses as a free-swear zone. Anything combining the two should be swearing-requisite.) Later in the day, after picking them up from the same bus stop a/k/a the scene of the crime, I tried to apologize for having blitzkrieg'd them with such a hearty F-Bomb. They had no idea what I was talking about and had never heard it. I am not sure what the moral of this story is, really, beyond the fact that I should shut the fuck up.

  11. I was afraid my now-toddler's first word would be fuck. Luckily for me it was not. There's just something so cathartic about a well-placed "motherfuckEEEEERRRRRR" muttered under my breath.

    My least proud parenting moment, though, was this past summer when my 2 year old fell on the ground, gave it a pound and a hearty "Goddammit!"

    At least he knows the context.

  12. I have to agree with the catharsis of swearing.

    Fuck me has become one of my go-to phrases when some crap happens (friggin' is so not a cuss word). Like when, for five days straight, my car was locked into it's parking space because some dumbass college student won't take the time to frakking straighten his car out before he runs off late to class and I can't get in my car on the driver's side. Nothing like having to crawl over a stick shift in a small car in a skirt.

    I have no kids but I know when to curse and when not to. I try really hard not to curse at church. Periodically a dammit will come out.

    Other times swearing is the better alternative to wielding my anger. Like the last day my car was blocked in the parking space. I stepped up to the cars, a guy in inappropriately short shorts for a cold day, is standing in front of them. I throw my hands in the air and mutter, "Fuck me!" The guy laughs and says, "Sorry about that. You know these spaces. They're tight."

    I just turned and glared at him but I kept my mouth shut. I wanted to say, "No, dip shit, it's you. For whatever reason, you don't have the decency or the smarts to check yourself, pull your car back, straighten up, and then stand outside your car in 32 degree weather in your Richard Simmons shorts." No indeed. Swearing the once was the best thing for me.

    No one will ever get me to stop rolling my eyes though.

  13. ooh interesting. I think i get you! dont have time to write a long comment gotta go to bed but am following you!
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    Flossie xx