I remember playing a game of tag beneath the willow trees at Amazon Park in the spring of my fourth grade year. I had yet to discover the truly sinister side of girls as the segregation by giggles and burps, and the cold calculations of the “tweens” had not yet occurred. Something happened that compelled me to screechjesus or shit. I’ll admit that it didn’t take much. I’d been on the periphery of enough of my dad’s poker games (no offense Dad, we can write it off to Nick or Joe)to know all the words to say upon stubbing your toe, losing a match or just feeling pissed. Looking back, I didn’t do much as a result of peer pressure – though the couple of times that I did I was nailed and promptly grounded. If I thought about it, which I doubt I was, I would have said that I thought the kids would think I was cool for having sworn.
On this particular day, with this particular group of kids, swearing was the wrong thing to do. Lisa Lee came over, chubby face flushed from the physical activity, glasses sliding down her nose, and said with her hands on her hips,
“Amanda, I cannot allow myself to be around someone like you. You have a dirty, dirty mouth. I cannot let myself hear the things you say. Goodbye. And, you should really clean your mouth.”
She left the park and took with her the four other girls who’d been there playing. I remember standing there thinking, “But it was just a word. Who cares? I won’t say it again.” Then I got mad. How dare she judge me like that. My family certainly didn’t verbally encourage me to swear (We would never say curse because that’s a word used by people who don’t. Curse. Swear.), but I heard the words. They weren’t hugely different from other words.
Who are you kidding?
I am trying to determine how I feel now as a mom. I remember my own mom saying that I needed to practice control so that I wouldn’t slip in a meeting (she was referring to burping, but we’ll let it apply to swearing here). I don’t like Briar or Avery to see violence on tv. Sean said just this morning that a video we have on iTunes is too racy and that he doesn’t like Briar seeing it. I agree.
I am not sure how I feel about swearing. The other day Sean came into the kitchen saying, “Yes, Daddy put the dolly away. We are all done on the dolly.” Then he turned to me and mouthed that Briar had requested he push the dolly faster and when he declined she let rip a “Damnit!” We both knew where she’d learned it. Yesterday when I picked her up from the sitter’s the woman said to me, “Do you say Jesus?” “Yes we do. I’m sorry.” She wasn’t bothered, just trying to figure out if Briar had learned it from her. It’s hard not to chuckle a bit. They are such sponges. Briar throws my own mannerisms back at me, a hand on the hip, a unique inflection, pursed lips, or comical sighs and head tilts. She is a mirror of my words and actions, both good and bad. I want to be a strong role model for her, but I also want to be real. I want to give her something that challenges her, but is attainable. I honestly don’t like the sound of her saying “damnit”, but I don’t know that I want to give up saying it myself. I suppose for now, the best I can do is just try to be as strong as I can in the areas that I am sure about. The others, well, we’re just going to have to take it a day at a time.
Do me a favor and cross your fingers that she waits to drop an f-bomb until we’re visiting my dad and he’s playing poker.