Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Swearing In

I am Nels. Some of you may know of my web site, AArisings. I'm a father of two children - a son who is 7 years old and a daughter who is 4 years old. This is my first entry on Rice Daddies.

During the summer, the big buzz in the music world was Cee-Lo Green's song "F**k You." I shared the catchy song and video via YouTube with my wife because I thought she would get a kick out of it. We were in our home office watching the video while the kids were playing together in the living room. Every so often the kids would pop into the office to see what we were doing and my wife would quickly stop the video so that the kids' virgin ears would not be exposed to the F-bomb. Little did we know that our son would be exposed to the F-bomb in other ways, however.

Last month my son and I were sitting on the couch when he declared, "I know a bad word."

I replied "oh really? What is the word?" thinking it would be something like the word "stupid" or "idiot" or even "fat" (which we had declared a not-so-nice word when referring to people).

He said "it starts with F," to which I was sure he was thinking of the word "fat." But then continued spelling the word with "U-C-K."

For a moment, I was speechless but then put my eyes back into their sockets and immediately reacted with a "that really is a bad word! You should not say that word." My son shelved that discussion away quickly after that, as if he had never spelled the word.

Since that time I've thought about the moment and thought about my own moment when I first dropped the F-bomb in front of my mother when I was 10 years old. My mother's reaction was to yell and scold me verbally for using the word. That made me fearful of using the word at home but surely did not stop me from using the word at school with my friends around. In fact, it encouraged me to use it even more outside of the home. There was a time between when I was 10 and 18 where I probably dropped the F-bomb many thousands of times. But something around the time when I finished high school made me realize that I was really using the F-bomb much-too-much and since then I've used it quite sparingly, opting for other less incendiary words to express my own frustrations.

I doubt my son, all of 7 years old, will have that same sort of enlightenment any time soon but I do wonder if he'll end up using the word more now that I've told him it is not appropriate to use. Ultimately, it is a word and really I think the lesson to teach my son is that the word is fraught with meaning and emotions which often make it a word best used, if at all, sparingly.

As a father, the simple response is always to tell a child not to do or say something, but really does a child ever really listen to that warning? The way I see it, my responsibility doesn't end there. I have a duty to, at the very least, share the lessons I've learned with my children and to teach them the value and meaning of words, even if it is the F-bomb.

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