Metamorphosis of a Potty Mouth

I’ve always loved descriptive language and the more expressive the word the better (expunge, sanguine, visceral). I almost wet myself when as a teenager I first heard comedian George Carlin’s “7 Words you Can Never say on Television” (shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker & tits) which obviously were compiled before the advent of cable TV. It might be difficult for today’s teen or young adult to even imagine how risqué Carlin was for speaking them out loud or how clean our censored television was.

I do also love descriptive words that aren’t nasty or sordid (aerie, bunny, slink, pungent, drizzle). But my heart is in the gutter. In high school, college and grad school, I was at the pinnacle of my poetry writing phase as well as my blabbing my mouth stage and I gloried in using Carlin’s words (sans the -sucker and mother- suffix and prefix). In my life and my writing I made use of so-called profanity as I pleased. So-called, because I think things like poverty, racism and downright meanness is way more profane than descriptive language about body parts and sex acts. But, as usual, I’m digressing…

When I had my first child I was worried I would slip-up and say something to my 2-year old like, “Honey, get in your fucking car seat before Mommy’s shit fit gets real ugly.” But I didn’t. Somehow, all the f-bombs were defused before deto

nation and my scatological riffs were creatively baby-wiped into a whole new use of language (doody, poopy, kaka, stinkies, etc…). Out in the world, toddlers in tow, mama bear that I was, I would ferociously glare at other people as they fuckin’ this fuckin’ that spoke with each other. Just like the ex-cigarette smoker who’s such a pain in the ass to those un-reformed public puffers, my evil eye cast many a hex on cussers when my kids were young.

Well, as the old English saying goes, “What’s bred in the bone will come out in the flesh.” Now that I’m the mother of teenagers and my youngest is about to go to middle school, I seem to have found the key to my verbal chastity belt. I’ve spent over ten years using euphemisms like “poop” and “a-hole” for perfectly sound words. But now I quit. Once the kids are into double digits all bets are off. I’m not going to suddenly be an asshole in front of my kids, but the other day I did tell my son not to “eff” something up.  He knew exactly what I meant, and he kind of rolled his eyes at me. I’m not sure if it was because I said that to him or because he thought I was being ridiculous for saying “eff” instead of just using the word.

How about you? Has your language use changed over time? Gotten cleaner or dirtier?


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10 responses to “Metamorphosis of a Potty Mouth

  1. Your Darling Daughter

    Very true, you never cursed when we were little. But your little munchkin started watching “Friends” at what, 4? 5? 😉

    • Which is why he was totally prepared for his first lesbian wedding and I didn’t ever have to explain that the Hanukkah Armadillo isn’t real. Now get the hell off the computer, girl! JK

  2. Patrick Lawless

    I am a pro when it comes to verbal control. The situation dictates the cacophony of curses or the propensity for proper postulating.

  3. My beautiful granddaughter reminded me of the way it used to be when she turned to me recently and said Grandma…some one here made a peeyoueee and it wasn’t me!! I always thought that some things were best left UNSAID. Not in today’s world. I guess it doesn’t hurt to take ownership of a silent one/ wish it cleared the air/ still need a breeze to do it right.

  4. My mother used to scold us for swearing. She liked to say someone’s language “would make a sailor blush.” My mother’s mother, on the other hand, employed a more, er, nautical vocabulary.

  5. Oh my, Rhona. I would NEVER have guessed you didn’t start until your teens. You’ve bloody well made up for it, haven’t you?

    • Rhona

      Linda, my own brother would tell you that I’d make a sailor blush! But I was a very good girl. A long, long, long time ago! Shocking isn’t it? 😉

  6. Rhona

    Love this post! I remember in school, (Ireland) and the parish priest (who looked as if he could be a key actor in the current series ‘The Borgias’) gave us a talk on how there was no need to use expletives to express ourselves. Instead, of calling someone a ‘boll**ks’ we should instead call him ‘worm-brain!’ Now, I didn’t swear until I was in my teens. But even knew ‘worm-brain’ didn’t really do it! Now, I’m proud to say I could win an Olympic medal in the art! (Sorry Father O’C. 😉

    And another memory from long, long, long ago, was when my sister did a sailing course on an old-fashioned sailing ship, with the masts and all that, and they weren’t allowed to swear! They did have a ‘non-nautical’ hour when they could f-and-blind to their hearts’ content, but they were in trouble if they were caught at it any other time. So much for sailors’ reputation for being foul-mouthed!

  7. I can’t tell you how much I fucking love you Ruth.

  8. I was such a potty mouth as a kid, my high school art teacher called me Piler. (I was more into the S-word than the F one at that point.) Like you, I cleaned up my act when I became a mother. That sort of fell away after we made the mistake of ignoring the parental advisory on an Adam Sandler tape we played for the children (aged 7 & 10) during a long drive to Grandma’s house (Sam, you WILL NOT talk about fucking goats in front of your grandmother!). Our kids are grown up now, and they’re both fine, upstanding citizens who have no trouble figuring out when it’s appropriate to mention fucking goats and when it’s not. (It is appropriate when they’re with their parents.)

    Meanwhile, you’ll probably enjoy this