Reading Response: "Cuss Time"
A Mouth Full
"Cuss Time" is an interesting look at the marriage between freedom and parenting. I was very impressed with the mother's epiphany while catching her son mouthing bad words to himself. I think the invention of "cuss time" would be very intriguing to most people. Certainly it is something that almost demands an opinion.
For me the intrigue comes from the curiosity of wanting to know how this experiment effected the life of the child as he went from adolescent to adult. After all she is the polar opposite of her parents when it comes to cussing, and she was definitely effected by it. While they washed her mouth with soap when she used harsh language, she allowed her child to speak freely within a span of 5 minutes per day. Maybe that's how long she got her mouth washed out by her parents. This could be subconsciously, how she came to a decision on the time limit for "cuss time". So I wonder at the end of the day will this "experiment", as I call it, have a positive or negative effect on the son's personality? As for the ideology of the author I can agree with most of her thoughts on freedom of speech. I am especially fond of the Lenny Bruce quote, "take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government". That is brilliant, comedic, and genius, straight from a comedy pioneer. The thing I can't agree with is the statement she makes about human nature.
She says, "the more we are denied something the more we want it?". I cannot agree with this because that is not always the case. For example, give an alcoholic free liquor everyday for the rest of their life and I guarantee that person will wake up every morning with not only the "want" but "need" to get that next bottle. The author's opinion concentrates on the "nature" but not the "nurture" of human psychology. We may all be susceptible to human nature, but how we are raised also plays an important role in how we end up. The mother and father are the "Role Models".
She throws me for a loop by punctuating her statement about human nature with a question mark. This makes me believe that she agrees with the words but, she is not sure if she is right or wrong. She leaves it open for discussion or response. Very cleverly written. All in all this essay made me think less about the words and the story and more about the author and her opinions. The creation and concept of "cuss time" was the catalyst but to me the main focus was on the mind of the author. The last three words of this essay are, "let freedom ring". Perfect material for a book named, "The Best American Essays". Although I agree with you sometimes Mr. Bruce, at least for now we are allowed to read whatever we want whenever we want. In some countries, what I just read might be against the law.
This Essay can be found in a book titled "The Best American Essays" by Mary Oliver.