This morning a friend and I were swapping anecdotes about our childhood language goofs.
Leslie explained that when she was little, she had 8 siblings. So, other than a one-fell-swoop family party, individual birthdays were only celebrated on the fifth and twelfth years. This was mainly a financial compromise, but Leslie was told that this practice was “the law”. In first grade, a classmate mentioned that she was going to have aparty for her 7th birthday. Leslie got all upset and warned her classmate not to do this because she’d be arrested by the police!
Leslie also mentioned that her mother was explaining that “shit” is not a curse (in the biblical sense). So she waltzed around the neighborhood saying “sh**…sh**…sh**…sh**…”
When I was in elementary school, my neighbor Junie came over and explained to me that she had had her mouth washed out with soap the day before because she called her little sister a bitch, as she had often heard me call Junie. I was shocked. I explained that “bitch” can’t possibly be a bad word — my mother calls me that all the time.
On to my son. When he was around 7 or 8, he had another little boy over, playing in the house. I walked past the bathroom to hear the boys laughing uncontrollably. I snuck up to the door to listen in. They were practicing their bad words, and as each word was uttered it engendered another spate of laughter: “poop … [hilarity] … poo … [hilarity … number 2 … [hilarity] … piss … [hilarity] … boob … [hilarity}…” and more.
I raised my children to understand that there are words that are not necessarily curses, but are bad words to use, like “shut up”, “asshole” and so on. One day my son came home from elementary school and confessed to me that he got so mad at a classmate that he used “the J word.” I was at a loss; couldn’t figure out what he meant. Finally he whispered it to me: “jerk”.
© 2014 Bonnie-Jean Rohner