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I swear! It’s true


This is beyond horrifying. But, alas, I am going to make a brutally honest confession. I swear. Yes, it’s true. I have allowed various curse words to fly from my lips while in the presence of my children. I used to beat myself up over this distasteful habit. But after a while, we all kind of got used to it and I began to, dare I say, accept myself for my occasional colorful slip up.

I try, hard, to control my verbiage. But, in the heat of an emotional toe-stub or traffic snafu, I seem to always revert to my youthful tendency to voice less than appropriate expressions. I acknowledge that I am surely the only parent who continuously breaks the unwritten rule to use only Websteresque appropriate language in the presence of children. But have you checked the dictionary lately? Not that this makes it right, but the “F” word is in there, right between “fucoid” (relating to or resembling the rockweeds) and “fuchsite” (a greenish variety of muscovite, high in chromium).

Given that so many curse words have eased into our current vernacular, I had almost convinced myself that my linguistic felony could be relegated to a mere verbal misdemeanor. Until today.

My 11 year old son, Levi, came home from an extracurricular activity in a silent and sullen mood. I tried to inquire about his emotional state. But he was as closed lipped as a tightly sealed bivalve. Once his father got home, he finally shared his frustration with us over dinner.

“Dad,” he said hesitantly, “All the boys are using disgusting language whenever the teacher isn’t around. It really bugs me and makes me feel uncomfortable. I try to ignore it. But today, was the worst. I mean, if it weren’t for mom, I would’ve learned three new words.”

My husband raised an eyebrow and glared at me from across the table. I felt my face flush red and my mind went totally blank. I think I may have tried to stammer something lame in defense of my sad self. But the stare I was met with sealed my lips shut instantaneously.

“Well,” my husband responded calmly without a hint of sarcasm, “Aren’t we lucky that mommy is such an accomplished linguist. She’s exposed you to so much in your young life. That’s why your vocabulary is so rich and extensive.”

I sat there motionless, waiting for the other shoe to drop. But instead, my husband got up cheerfully, cleared his dishes and went into the kitchen. The rest of us followed suit. We put the kitchen back in order without saying a word. Then we snuggled into the sofa to watch a few “Dick Van Dyke” reruns. Not another word on the issue was uttered.

I find I’m trying harder now to curb my propensity towards vulgarity. I’ve even assigned a large glass jar as cash collector every time I swerve off course. Isn’t it funny how silence can sometimes teach us lessons that 10,000 words couldn’t even come close to?

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About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

5 responses to “I swear! It’s true

  1. Toni ⋅

    Love your honesty, you say things that most parents are only thinking!!! Chances are, though, your kids will have heard it somewhere else before they hear it fly out of your mouth. This I know for sure!

  2. If it weren’t for you, Mom! Still laughing!

  3. Mack Burly ⋅

    I’m betting that jar will contain enough cash for a down payment on a new car by the end of the year. Your vocab might pay off! Cha-Effing-Ching!

  4. I was really good when they were little but I’m finding it harder now they are 14 and 11 to not swear in front of them – why could I go years not swearing around babies & toddlers but now lose the plot? But we are going with do as I say not as I do rule in our house.

    • gettrich

      I’m a firm believer in the “do as I say, not as I do” rule. It’s right up there with “because I said so,” “wait till your father comes home,” and “I hope one day you’ll have children just like you.”
      After all, it’s our job to give our kids fodder for therapy later in life 🙂

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