Things Said in Homes with Small Children: Halloween Edition (1)

Tonight we carved our pumpkins.

Hubby had cleaned the insides of both pumpkins while I ran to the store for the batteries.  When I got home, we took turns helping five year old J with her pumpkin, which has patterns like a regular pumpkin, but instead of carving, involves poking a series of colored plastic pegs in the holes of a pattern, the light source being a fake candle that runs on a nine volt battery.  The end result is something that looks like a giant pumpkin-shaped lite brite showing whatever pattern you chose.

lite-brite-installation2After he took over helping her, I went about carving my own pumpkin in the traditional way… You know, plastic sppons and itty bitty saws… I swear I almost ended up needing stitches several times, and wondered exactly how many people per year have Halloween carving disasters.

As they were finishing up J’s lite brite pumpkin, I was doing the final touches on mine, including cleaning some extra mess out of the center.  When I am “arting” (as with my writing) I am usually intensely focused.  I didn’t care that I was getting pumpkin all over the place.

And since part of hubby and my relationship involves regularly taking the piss out of each other  (we celebrated six years married yesterday, so it must be an effective means of bonding,) hubby offered his wise ass opinion.

Him:  “I cleaned two whole pumpkins out and didn’t make that much of a mess.”

Me: ” What, do you want a fucking cookie?  Go in the kitchen and get you one.”

At which point my five year old daughter pipes up  “I want a fucking cookie!”

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We really weren’t much good scolding her because we were both laughing too much.  And I think Mommy will be getting punished tonight.  But if that’s the worst thing she hears, I think she’ll be alright.  I’m 34 years old, and I don’t much believe in “watching my mouth” around my own kid.  I’ve earned the right to swear.  One day she’ll earn hers.  (“When I grow up, I can say ‘dammit’ ?”)
Yeah, dude.  But not until then.

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Is “That Kind of Language” Really Necessary?

Those of you who are faithful followers, or who know me personally, know that I am something of a potty mouth.  I could give you examples, or mention all the variations of the title question I’ve heard, but that’s not really what the this post is about.

Today, I finished another Dean Koontz novel, The Funhouse.  Despite Koontz’s tendency to include thinly veiled moral/religious connotations in most of his work, and his even more irritating tendency to overdo it on the metaphorical descriptives, I do like his stories.  The Funhouse, one of his older novels and based off another author’s screenplay, is in my opinion, one of his more entertaining pieces.

But what really struck me was a passage from the “new” afterword.  The novelization was originally penned in 1980 (a year before I was born, incidentally,) and the language is gritty and (to me) realistic to a bunch of rebel teens from the ’80’s.  Koontz had this to say in his newest afterword written this year.

If I were to write the novelization […] today, I’d leave out most or all of the explicit language, since I’ve learned it’s always a crutch and that it diminishes rather than enlivens virtually any story.

I immediately took issue with this statement.  To be sure, I am picky about my writing, and critical about the writing in the books I read.  For instance, Patricia Cornwell is an extremely popular crime novelist who has sold more than 100 million copies of her novels.  And I don’t like her.  Sure, her stories are fine, but I find her writing style so irritating that I just don’t buy her books.  I can’t recall specifics because it’s been a while since I read anything of hers, but I seem to remember her as one of those authors that feels like she has to “explain” everything to audience, to the point where it causes the dialogue between characters to sound disingenuous and phony.

Which brings me to my point.  One of the major things that determines a novel’s success is the ability of the audience to relate to and care about the characters.  Nothing detracts from that faster than a disingenuous character or one who does not seem realistic.  While I concede that there are people that don’t use profanity, and writers who may eschew the use of it in their work, I believe it is a writer’s job to be true to their characters.  If their characters are typical 80’s teens, as in The Funhouse, they more than likely swear at least a little.  Even if there is a token “good girl” or “mama’s boy” in there somewhere, more than likely, the rest will curse at least a bit and more than possibly like sailors.

Nothing is more irritating than to hear (read) a character tip-toe around bad words, or worse, substitute lesser exclamations as if they were the most natural thing in the world.  “Oh, crap.”

Anyway, I just think, as successful as Koontz is, on this point, he’s…well, wrong.

What do you think, my fellow writers and book worms?

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profanity (1)

“Uck”…Uggghhh

And the Parent of the Year award goes to…

While I won’t be winning any awards this week (or singing “We Saw Your Boobs,”) I’m also sure I’m not the only parent that still has a potty-mouth.  I know a lot of people feel that they won’t change when they have kids.  Well, for obvious reasons, if you don’t change at all– even if in just a few very fundamental ways– you’re probably a dick who shouldn’t have had kids in the first place.  You put your children first, you love them unconditionally, you are more fiercely protective of your child then you have ever been of anything or anyone else…ever.

Some people maybe do a 180–  they fall headfirst into the mommy or daddy role (perhaps much to the chagrin of their single or childless friends.)

Aside from that, some people change very little.  They generally enjoy most of the same past-times (even if they don’t get to enjoy them as often,) they probably still dres,s the same, act the same… speak the same.

Yep… I have always fervently defended my right to curse.  I usually temper it slightly depending on company, but for the most part, I iz me, and me cuss a lot!   You can deny it all you want, but in my opinion, saying “schizzle-nitz!” or whatever, when you crack your little toe on the coffee table at night just does not help you feel better comparable to an explosive “Fuck!”  I also maintain that you’d have to say “shit” three times to get the relief of one good “fuck.”

But anyway… so my daughter J* is picking up words pretty rapidly now…new words every other day.  And a still lot of that toddler jabber that only she understands.  On occasions, hubs and I have heard things that sound suspiciously like curses, but as they are often apropos of nothing in particular, we really just can’t be sure…

Is she saying “shit,” or “sit?”  in toddler-lisp?

I guess you all know where this going…

Last night, I was playing Resident Evil.  Hubs and J* were each doing their thing.

Something annoying happens in the game; I probably got grabbed or knocked down but some gooey, deformed something-or-other.  And I hissed, “Fuck!”

And like an echo, I hear off to my right, “Uck!”

Hubby and I look at one another– we’ve probably been in denial until now– and he says gently to J*, “Don’t say that word,baby.”

I add, “That’s a big girl word.”

And hubby amends “That’s a bad mommy word.”

*glare*

Well…we have no one to blame but ourselves…  we curse a lot.  I’d almost say we like to curse.  Some people will get all snooty and say cursing is a sign of someone with a weak vocabulary.  I assure you, that’s not the case here.  My vocabulary is fine…better than fine, I’d wager (but to you Pious Pollys, thanks for your concern over my alleged impoverished vocabulary and its implicit reflection on my morality.)

But anyway…  it got me thinking about the concept of curbing my tongue again.  I’m rather fond of something my step-grandfather used to say– “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Are you going to go to bed at 7:30, just because your kid has to? No, because you’re the adult.  Does setting a good example mean you can’t have a candy bar before dinner because your child can’t? No, because you are the adult, and you know you’ll still eat your dinner.  Kids can’t drink, adults can.  If you have friends over for a game of cards or Sunday football, are you not going to have a beer because your kid can’t and you “want to set a good example?”  Not likely.  And as long as you’re not raging drunk, there should be no issue with that.  Well, you get the point.

However, I’ll not deny the merit of setting good behavioral examples.  And I plan to set a good example for my child—  kindness, compassion, fairness, (kindness to animals,) respect for elders, manners (holding doors, offering seats, tolerance, etc.) are all things I hope she learns by my and my husband’s examples.

Some might argue that language (particularly foul language) is a behavior.  And maybe I’m a hypocrite because I yelled at my neighbor for saying the N-word in front of my kid.  I guess I do draw the line somewhere.  She is two and while it may be embarrassing to hear her repeat the F-word, the N-word is not something I want her repeating.  No one should say it.  And I’d rather have people thinking I am uncouth by cursing around my child, than a racist twat.  After all, where would they assume she learned that word, if not from being around others who say it?

So I suppose, like anything else in parenting, your decisions regarding “cussing” in front of your kids is fairly relative or subjective.  All parenting decisions are personal so long as the child is not in physical or emotional danger.

I’m curious though–  to my fellow potty-mouth parents (or those with similar vises that we might not want our toddlers mimicking) …what are your tactic for dealing with the dreaded “Uck!”