Is there anything sadder than the image of a middle-aged man complaining to the manager of a strip club that the lunch buffet has run out of hot wings? Maybe it's the indifference that those of us who are comfortable have for the suffering of everyone else in the world. It's a close contest.
But, as the post title says, this isn't about strip clubs or middle-aged men. This post is about babies, or, more particularly, my baby. My two-year-old recently started working blue and the issue has been something that has caused a little debate in my family. Do you ignore it and hope it goes away? Do you punish him whenever he says it and hope the attention does not make him want to say it more? Should we worry about the hypocrisy of punishing him when he probably learned it from his mother or the lady who keeps him during the day?
Of course, all he's saying is "dammit." For example, something he was playing with got a little food on it and he chirped, "Oh, no! Dammit." I'm proud that he uses it correctly in context and isn't just spouting random words we say. I actually find it kind of funny, but I try to stifle my giggles and have to let K decide how she wants to deal with the situation. I suck at being a disciplinarian, especially with the rules I don't necessarily care about. I really do try, but I find too many things funny and too few serious. I understand we can't let him keep saying it. At some point he has to learn that he has to chooses not to use certain words in certain situations regardless of how dumb a particular social more is. I just don't know how to go about teaching this lesson to a toddler.
And let's be honest, it's a little ironic that no one assumed he learned the forbidden term from me. I enjoy working blue, myself, and honestly have a little trouble not casually tossing around fucks and goddammits in his earshot. It started in high school when I wrote a persuasive essay arguing that profanity was an entirely artificial sin and that we should really spend more time as a society worrying about the content of our language and not the diction. I took my own arguments to heart and haven't looked back. Of course, I'm good at code shifting. I'm not a football coach, so I wouldn't have been able to keep my job this long if I haven't. Unfortunately, I've had trouble training myself to think of my home as an unsafe environment to just be myself. Still, I doubt that E learned his new vocabulary from me. I just don't say dammit very often, if ever. It's just too tame for me.
I also think the claim that the use of profanity is a sign of limited intelligence or command of the language is pretty stupid. It's just a backup argument people fall back on when someone just won't accept "because it is wrong" as a logical argument. Over-reliance on any word is a sign of limited verbal ability, but there are times when profane words, with their strong emotional connotations, are a good choice. Honestly, I'd have to say that my overuse of "actually" is much more of a linguistic flaw in my speaking and writing than my usage of "fuck." It's like saying sex and violence aren't appropriate in art or entertainment. Sure, it can become gratuitous, but there are times when it's relevant, important, compelling, and right.
But none of this tells me how to deal with a two-year-old boy who says dammit.