When I was young, I would cry for my older brother’s soul as he said a curse word, or called someone a certain word or two. I really thought he would be going to hell, and he reveled in making me cry!
Summer of my entering 7th grade, I wanted to go to the store with him, as he was now driving. I should have suspected something was up when he readily agreed to take me with him! We walked out to his car – long before automatic locks were standard in vehicles. Before he got in the car, he looked across the top of the car at me and said, “say this phrase…” It was a string of curse words. I looked at him horrified, and told him I couldn’t! His response was a nonchalant, “then you can’t go with me.”
He got in his Mazda, cracked the window that would be my window if I were accompanying him, and told me to say the phrase. I wouldn’t, so he started the car. He gave me another chance. At that point, I started crying (because I cried. A. Lot. as a young child). I told him I couldn’t. He put the car into reverse, giving me another chance. I still couldn’t force myself to say the phrase.
He started to back out of the driveway, and rolled his window down, encouraging me to say the phrase. I wailed I couldn’t say it, and I threatened to tell my mom. His response was, “she’ll believe me when I tell her you were giving me attitude. Besides, she won’t believe I am going to make you say this phrase. What you need to learn here, is that you are going into public school, and you need to become accustomed to hearing these kinds of phrases, and occasionally saying them. Unless you want to get beat up, of course.”
Eventually, I caved – I said the phrase. By that time, he was idling his Mazda in the middle of the cul-de-sac in which we lived. He said he couldn’t hear me. I repeated it slightly louder – emphasis on slightly. Eventually, I repeated the phrase a total of three times – the third time I was yelling it so he could hear me.
All so I could go to the store with him.
My brother opened the flood gates.
Since then, I have cursed like a sailor.
I honestly admit I am not quite proud of my cursing habits – it is a frequent confession I make when I head in to see the priest. I have worked very hard to curb my cursing habits, but the problem is, all through middle and high school, I would insert whichever “feeling” word best suited my mood for whatever sentence I was forming.
Then, I met my husband. My husband does not curse. Or, if he does, it is not around his family…
In fact, it is a common belief in his family that, if you are intelligent, there is no need to curse because, well, you find more intelligent words to use. I agree with that sentiment, and in professional working spaces, I do find other, alternative creative words with which to express myself. However, there is something so freeing about letting a curse word fly from time to time. I’m pretty sure I’ve caught Soldier Boy’s look of disapproval at times when I have let words fly – and, depending on whether or not I am in an ornery mood, he will hear another string of colorful words, to just pick on him.
One Lent, I gave up cursing by charging myself each time I said a curse word. All the money went into the Operation Rice Bowl collection on my table, and above what is automatically collected for Operation Rice Bowl, I think I ended up with an extra 40 dollars in the collection because of my cursing habit – obviously, the “paying for each curse word” didn’t really curb my propensity for cursing.
All that aside, I have really worked hard to curb my cursing habit, because honestly, that is what it became in middle and high school – a second nature habit. I have tried to watch my language even more so, now that I have a little one in the house. Anyone who has ever been around children knows children will repeat that which you don’t want them to repeat. So, I have worked diligently to try to break my cursing habit.
Last year, I could promise my toddler said “b-s” when told he couldn’t receive Communion at Communion time in church. I am still not 100% sure where he heard that word, since that has never been my go-to word. And, since he was still garbly-sounding, I couldn’t correct him appropriately without using the word, and I was afraid if he wasn’t saying that word, I would inadvertently teach it to him. So, we had a conversation about how he felt sad or angry because he couldn’t receive Jesus yet, and we went on our way.
I have been on a pretty good roll of not cursing in his presence, or at all for that matter, until recently. My go-to phrase lately has been a relatively tame one – “darn it,” except swap the “r” with another letter. And, last night, it finally happened.
I slipped and said it when he was present. In the exact same inflection, he copied me! And, instead of yelling at him, I had to yell at myself, “Mommy! Shame on you! We don’t use bad words like that! Can you say another word instead?”
I’m just glad he didn’t hear me this morning, when I slipped again, and said my current phrase after the trash full of leftovers-gone-bad dumped over onto the floor. Even though it’s another time I have slipped – it felt so darn good!