Sunday, November 17, 2013

Guilty: Potty Mouthed Parents

“I’m going to take wiener pills so that my wiener will grow like Pinocchio’s nose!”

Those words came out of my nine year old son’s mouth last night.

I couldn’t help it. I laughed; we all did.

You are wondering where it came from, I’m sure. Think about it. The writing should be on the wall for those of you with children.

Those words came from the television…and his parents.

In an age of Viagra and family laced commercials it was inevitable that Brian would comment…in front of the kids. He’s quite funny but has no filter when it comes to things like this.

The commercial was forgettable, like most of them. My one caveat to this: the man and woman sitting in claw foot bathtubs watching the sunset was pretty good. All I can think about when watching it is 1: what happens when the water gets cold (those better be some amazing pills), and 2: where are the bathtub blow up pillows to support their necks?

I digress.

Brian saw the commercial. We were all in the living room together. Before I realized he was getting ready to speak, he chirped “wiener pills”.

I said “seriously”?

Brody grinned, hopped off the couch, sauntered across the floor choking on his own laughter as he spouted “I’m going to take wiener pills so that my wiener will grow like Pinocchio’s nose”.

As far as I know he’s never seen Pinocchio. Or read it. Pinocchio wasn’t one of my favorite Disney movies. Wooden puppets freak me out.

I was instantly reminded of another occasion when one of our children commented on what they had heard. Only I was the culprit .

Once, while driving, Marah asked me if “Jesus Christ” was a bad word. I was humbled, embarrassed. Taking the road of responsibility, I responded “it depends honey….if you hear it in church, no….if it comes out of your mother’s mouth while she’s driving, yes”.

She simply nodded with an accusatory look; a wise sage in a little girl’s body. As I looked in the rearview mirror at her pursed lips I swear I could see Grandma Stone shaking her head at me. I was so ashamed that the first time I shared this story with my mother-in-law I switched the characters and said it was Brian who had committed the verbal offense. I know, I know…..add it to the list of sins I carry.

Today’s kids spend a great deal of time immersed in the world of technology. We worry that they might pick up inappropriate things or learn words we don’t want them to hear.

I’m sure some of you are appalled. It’s okay. I grew up in the home of a Marine. I’ve heard just about every combination of curse words that can be combined, in lengthy poems. My grandfather was partial to the words “son of a bitch” and it was exceedingly effective when repeated (think Dorothy’s “there’s no place like home” and replace it with “son of a bitch”, times three).

He never used the “f” word in front of me, though I’m not sure why that particular favorite didn’t make the “okay in front of children” list when so many others did. Maybe my Grandmother had something to do with it; she hated the “f” word. I didn't realize HOW much she hated it until I made the mistake of trying to watch the movie "Crash" with them. I thought they'd be moved by it. She was. Deeply moved. To shut off "that filthy language" ten minutes in. I think our generation is a little numb to profanity because I didn't even realize the language was questionable until she was sitting next to me and I started counting. It was awkward, to say the least.

Most of us moms have our red line, don’t we? My Grandmother's was the "f" word. My red line is directly related to hate and even Brian doesn’t cross that line.

He does, however, use the “f” word. I think it’s our unspoken treaty: he doesn’t use the “b” word because I’d put oil in the gas tanks of his dirt bikes if he did and I ignore the “f” bombs on those occasions when the word helps him explain how he feels.

When they were little he didn’t use the “f” word. New parents are ever-so vigilant. Over the years we’ve both gotten lax. I used it for the first time about six months ago. This may come as a surprise, but we were in the car.

Don’t judge me. Try spending 15 years in the probation industry. Many folks I worked with learned to love the word. It just fits sometimes.

I digress.

The first time I used this word in front of the kids was when someone pulled out in front of us. I saw our lives flash in front of my eyes and it came out before I realized it.

Marah started laughing, screaming “you used the “f” word mom!!! You’ve never used the “f” word before!!!”

This isn’t quite true. I have used the “f” word several, eh hum, times in my life. I just hadn’t used it in front of them before.

Here’s the thing.

The world didn’t end because I used that one four letter word in front of them.

In addition, I haven’t heard the kids use it.

I’m not na├»ve. Believe me, I eavesdrop. It’s one of my favorite things to do. When they are playing with friends, listening in on their conversations can provide deeply satisfying moments of laughter and joy.

It lets me know when they are arguing; let’s me hear them work through it. It also lets me hear them using the English language in a casual setting.

The dirtiest word I’ve ever heard my kids say during these covert mother spying operations is the same thing they enjoy doing on road trips with their parents: fart.

Cursing in front of our kids isn’t something I’m proud of. But like I tell them, those are just words. Our conversations regarding the English language focus on a few key points:

1. There are certain words that hurt people. If I ever hear them using those words they will be grounded until they can legally leave home.

2. There are words that simply aren’t acceptable to use in public because they are offensive to some people. We have to live in this world together and respect each other.

3. The English language is filled with amazing and wonderful words that we can freely use, unencumbered by social mores, most of them non R-rated. We play with words in our home and I try to teach them the excitement of hearing a new word roll off of their tongues.

4. Profanity leaves a bad impression, particularly when used by children.

I don’t get hung up on profanity. It’s a hard thing, being an adult and knowing the boundaries of “words” but also being imperfect and letting the bad ones slip in front of your kids. Habits are also hard to break, verbal ones in particular .

I think my kids get it. We talk about language. I yell at their father in front of them when he says naughty things. It’s the same song and dance routine done in millions of homes around the globe, I’m sure. I also apologize when I slip up. Our language violations started when they were old enough, I hope, to understand that adults do things kids aren’t allowed to do.

Like drive. Work. Operate power tools. Pay bills.

And curse.

I won’t lie, the Pinocchio reference is going in the “stories to tell at your wedding” journal. And part of me looks forward to the next time Brody says something funny. He has a knack…and his father provides fodder on a daily basis.

Keeping that fodder in mind, along with my own, I’m still pretty sure our kids are going to turn out just fine.

In spite of their potty mouthed parents.

Or maybe, just maybe, because of us.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Adventures of Paul Bikens

My son Brody, while visiting a buddy, wrote this short story. Enjoy!

Once there was a young lad named Paul Bikens. He was an orphan.

One day when he was scribbling on a book a family got him!

He grew up riding on the plains of his family’s farm on his bike. He could do no hands on his bike while he hit a massive bump!

He could play video games in the middle of a race!

Yes, he was a good bike rider. Until one day.

See, it was a good day. Paul was riding and a good look’in fella came by on his gold bike with a huge engine! He said “are you Paul Bikens?”

Paul answered bravely and kindly “Indeed I am!”

“I’m Mud Woodstepper and I challenge you to a race,” he said in a tough voice. Then some other bikers came around.

One said “Ain’t nobody ever gonna beat Paul and his bike!”

“Well,” Mud continued, “first one to that tree wins.”

“I accept your challenge!” said Paul.

So they raced a few minutes and then they were two miles from the finish line.

Mud threw something on the ground and tripped Paul!

He got back up and kept going. He hit a big bump, jumped over Mud, and won!

The End

By: Brody Shulda, age 9