I’m sure that title sounds terrible to most people. I mean I’m a wife and mother for crying out loud. But since I am saying that I miss it, it must mean I don’t use it very often so hold off the calls to CPS. You see, I grew up in a “clean language home.” We all spoke our minds, but we were not allowed to use bad words. (Maybe that’s where my love of words began- in a home that cherished them and treated them with respect… hmmm? To be explored in another post perhaps?”) “Sucks” was a word that my mother despised, she thought it was crass. And once when my brother said, “I betcha!” I responded with, “I don’t bet garbage I burn it.” Needless to say, my mother was NOT pleased. “Words hold the power to encourage as well as hurt others so choose them wisely,” she often said. Pretty smart lady, huh?
So you bet your boots that I was shocked when I began to slip them in conversations when I got older. Once I left for college my parents did a wonderful job letting me find my way and myself while always keeping me rooted. So I guess the subtle use of “crap” probably wasn’t something they were too concerned with. But I was elated! In fact, I remember the first time I used it- sad, but true. Their response… nothing. So, like the child that I was, I began to introduce other words in our everyday conversations. An occasional “s$#t” or “bi*#h” properly inserted seemed to make stories better. And still no gasp or crooked eyebrow from my mom.
And then, I discovered the mother of all words… The “F word”. And a relationship was born. Now I was not one of those people who carelessly threw it in every sentence. We all know those people. It wasn’t something I just threw around and definitely did not throw it at people. Come on now, I grew up in a house that respected words, remember? But I certainly learned the power of the “F word.” It just seemed to hold such power and life. It conveyed so many emotions with just 4 little letters. Weaving an occasional “F bomb” in an angry rant just made my frustration so much clearer. Snarky comments were just a tad funnier with the “big F” deposited in just the right place. And nothing relieves the pain of stubbing your toe quite like a guttural scream of “Ow! F*%#!” Again, let me say, I did not use them all the time, only where appropriate.
However, college and grad school came and went and it was time to enter the “real world” and using the “F word” as a middle school teacher is pretty inappropriate. And, to be honest, I grew up a bit, realized that it certainly wasn’t a word that added any value to the world and it wasn’t very attractive either. And so I bid a sad farewell to my old friend and found other words to replace it. I am now known for my use of “super”, “awesome”, “man!”, and “shoot!” All good words, but they certainly don’t carry the weight of a good “F bomb.”
Well, recently I’ve been reading… well, I won’t tell you what because that’s an admission for another post. But one of the characters in my current literary addiction uses the “F word”- a lot. Like me, he doesn’t use it willy-nilly or simply a place holder between words. It is inserted when necessary and since this character has a lot of issues, it’s pretty necessary. But as I have read these past few nights, I felt a nostalgic pull in my chest for my old friend. And I realized, I just plain miss him. I’m a wife and mother and grown up in society so I know better than to reintroduce it to my everyday vernacular; but I have enjoyed feeling the angst, grief and elation of said character through his use of it.
And so, I wanted to use this post to give a shout out to my old friend the “F Word.” Although we rarely see each other anymore and the distance continues to grow between us, you will always hold a place in my heart and I know we’ll see each other occasionally in the dark as I crash into my bed.
That’s just my normal…
I’ve always wanted to use it as a noun – like to call someone a fat f***!
in pursuit says
you kill me, lk. i can’t bring myself to do that. i can’t find one situation where i would use it as a noun in any sort of positive manner. mostly it would ust be mean (see: your example). I can only come up with fat f*** or stupid f*** or dumb f*** Maybe I could call someone a brilliant f*** or a smart little f***er. Yeah, that works.
If you take the naughtiness out of the f word, it loses its power. For example, Like most parents I have talked with my kids at various times about swear words, and how they are not nice or clever, but I have also discussed situations where they might be ok: hopefully never aimed at someone, but perhaps ok to help them vent.
I struck a deal with my seven year old, who was the most intregued by the idea of swearing, that if her was pissed off, angry, upset, or ready to explode, and was with me and asked permission he could go for it. So far so good… He sticks to the deal, asks permission, and vents the F### out of it. It’s kind of funny to see my poor upset little man stomp and repeatedly swear, but weird humour aside, it helps his mood lighten and sometimes he makes himself laugh as he stands angrily repeating the f bomb. Best of all he doesn’t really give a F about the F word at other times.
I like your approach. It’s so hard to know what we should keep “taboo” and what we should make out in the open. In our house, where words are obviously valued immensely, I decided to be honest with my kids. I told them what swear words mean (age appropriately, of course:). Most importantly, though, I have emphasized to them that their words have the power to define them- even more power than their physical first impression. Therefore, choose your words wisely- always. Control your tongue. Think before you speak. Admit your intention- to be funny, to hurt, to inform, to gossip. Then think before you speak AGAIN. I told them that when they are outside of our house and when they are older, we will have no say in what words they choose. It’s up to them to create their reputation. However, they are not adults yet. So I DO have some say in what they say. And there are certain words I’m not ok with. I guess it’s just like everything else in parenting: We have to choose our (sometimes arbitrary) line in the sand.
Thanks so much for your comment, Jellybean! I love when other parents share their insight. It helps me feel more normal and become a better, more informed mom.