|Already plotting their moves...|
For one month of each year, my children are the same age. After 10 childless years, we had two boys in an eleven month span. Not going into detail here, but sufficed to say we figured it out the problem with having the first one and the second one just surprised us. Having two kids this close in age is almost like having a set of twins where one is just a little smarter. Eleven months smarter to be exact, and that caused the older one to usually take the lead.
And that is exactly what happened when they walked into my kitchen one day and asked to talk to me. They were seven and eight at the time. And if there is one thing I have learned in life is that whenever someone starts a conversation expressing the need to talk to you, it is never good. As I remember, their exact wording was “we have a question for you” but the premise is the same. “Okay”, I answered and sat down at the table so that we were eye level. The older one actually took a deep breath and then started, “If we are outside playing with our friends, and you can’t hear us, is it okay if we say ‘damn’?” It took me a minute to figure out what they were asking. The younger one stood looking down, nodding his head as if he was thinking “I knew this wasn’t a good ideal”.
“You want to be able to curse, as long as I can’t hear you, correct?” They both nodded in agreement. “Just ‘damn' they assured me. Now, they were talking to someone who used to come home by curfew, wait for her father to fall asleep, climb out the bedroom window and go back out. I can’t even imagine saying “Dad, if you’re asleep and you don’t know, is it okay if…….?”
I thought of this 20-year-old conversation the other day when I read that an anti-profanity crusader, who formed the “No Cussing Club”, had asked the ABC network to pull an episode of Modern Family where the adopted daughter (a toddler) of the married gay couple uses the “f” word. During the taping, the little actress used the word “fudge”, on the show, however, the word was muffled and her mouth was blurred. You get the picture. One father felt horror while the other tried to hide that he that he thought it was funny. In the end, the whole church thought it was funny. (Okay, I laughed too.)
I am a huge Modern Family fan and would watch no matter what, but I Googled this crusader, McKay Hatcher, and found that his group is 35,000 members strong and is made up of mostly college age students. So maybe there is hope to curtailing some of the profanity that so easily laces our vocabulary. Mine included, on occasion.
Yes, sadly, the “f” word is today’s “damn”. It’s used in any movie without a G-rating. You see the word mouthed from frustrated professional athletes. You hear it in conversation from people passing you in the mall. I have seen it on Facebook and Twitter. Its use has leaped from taboo to what seems to be an acceptable form of expression.
Many years have passed since that treasured kitchen conversation with my boys. And I am sure that since, many things have been said and done by both of them that I do not want to know about. But at that young age, my own small modern family used such courage and honesty in even asking the question that I claim that morning as a victory.
But still, I remember being confused on how best to answer. Part of me wanted to say “Think about this, guys, if I can’t hear you…….”, but I didn't want to put that thought in their heads. So, I went diplomatic. “When you feel the need to curse now, what word do you use?” They responded in unison “dag”. Damn, that’s awfully close. “Well, why don’t you use that for a little while longer” I suggested knowing there would be a time they would figure out that they didn't need to consult me on all of their choices. But, still today, my kitchen is always open, and I am grateful each time one of them still finds their way in to do just that.