I love the movie A Christmas Story. I could watch it in the middle of summer. The movie isn’t even really about Christmas, it’s more about gifts to undeserving children that will probably injure themselves or others, but doing so in the spirit of giving while celebrating the birth of JHC. It’s a real heart tickling flick.
Anyway, there is one scene from the movie that I really don’t like but only because it is so unrealistic. Borderline asinine. The “Oh Fudge” scene. You know it and I’m too lazy to describe it so let me just explain why I don’t like it one bit; if a father cursed that frequently in front of his kids how dare he act shocked, appalled and angry when his son blurts out the f-word in a moment of anger. If anything, the Old Man should have been shocked because it took Ralphie that long to let one fly. And then the reaction of the mother. Soap in the mouth? Let’s all calm the fudge down.
I’m not saying parents should encourage their kids to curse. I’m also not saying parents should not curse in front of their kids. It’s your kid, screw him or her up any way you please. I’m just here to give a few helpful hints on how to cut the cursing to a minimum so the kids don’t end up sounding like Andrew “Dice” Clay recording an audio autobiography.
Here are a couple ideas…
Practice when they aren’t around
The first way to master curbing your foul mouth in front of the kids is to control it when they aren’t around. How can you remember not to spit out expletives when the kids can hear when you spend half your day at work or with friends telling them to “funk off” and “kiss your big fat ash” every other sentence? It’s impossible to maintain two separate types of speech.
To make it easier, ask your friends to also watch the mouth in your presence. It’s like the habit of checking your watch when someone else is checking their watch or yawning when someone else yawns. You want to curse when other people curse. You’ve got to resist temptation. Your friends and coworkers will understand if you explain nicely. Just say “look, fella, I realize it’s the lunch rush and we are out of Happy Meal toys but I’ve got a lot of fries to cook and if you keep cursing like this it’s only going to make me want to curse. Now if you’ll excuse me they need me to pee in the Big Mac special sauce. Hold my pickles!”
Remind yourself with physical pain
The year was 1998ish. I was living on my own and doing well for a man of few goals and limited skills. I’d just moved into a new condo and instead of buying new furniture I cheaped out and used the 4 ton dressers and nightstands that had been with me all through every year of my life. In a rush one morning, I yanked on a top drawer and pulled it straight from its resting spot. It dropped to the ground faster than Wile E. on an Acme rocket and the edge landed right on my big toe. I saw Jesus that day my friends. He sat down on the bed next to me, offered a swig of Boone’s Farm from his flask and gave this piece of advice “never go to a prostitute that carries business cards”. I wanted to ask what he meant by that but my toe hurt too damn bad and it’s hard to talk while crying. I then passed out. Point of the story? Jesus works in mysterious ways. Also I learned never to tug on a dresser drawer. I learned the lesson because of the intense pain that followed for a solid week. Pain taught me a lesson.
If you keep letting the f-bomb drop in front of the kids, punish yourself with physical pain every time. People of little pain tolerance will tell you to put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you curse but that’s only going to irate the skin and frankly you’ll look like a teenage cutter with all those wrist marks. Punch yourself in the leg or run face first into a lamp post. Make it memorable. You won’t curse in front of the little tikes again. Unless you count the punch to the leg or lamp post shot.
Stop being productive in front of them
Ever notice some of the worse cursing comes in times of stress? Traffic. Putting together things around the house. Your mother-in-law accepting the offer to move into the guess bedroom. It’s during those intense moments you tend to let the curses fill the air. If the kids weren’t around in those moments of verbal weakness you wouldn’t have to bite your tongue. The easiest thing to do is to stop putting yourself, and them, in those situations. Let your wife do the driving, stop fixing stuff, quit banging your head against the low beam in the basement and doing all the things that make you curse the most. This might mean no more sports. Not playing nor viewing. None. Not even soccer. Trick. Soccer isn’t a sport.
Tell them about your medical thing
You know, that rare medical thing that the doctor diagnosed you with at a very young age. The condition that makes you say very bad things that should never be repeated especially in front of mommy or clergy. No, not tourettes, that’s an actual medical condition that shouldn’t be made fun of or told to the kids because they are going to spread it around. Then people are going to think you really have it, and when you explain that you don’t, they will look at you as being a terrible dad that lies to his children and tells them he has ailments instead of just admitting he called someone a “twat rocket” in the mall parking lot and the kids started giggling and calling each other that name so he needed to minimize the damage.
Yes, see, that condition.
Stop worrying about it
Honestly, while you’d love to be the shining example to your kid, it’s completely out of your control. You could go your entire life without saying a negative thing in front of your child and they will still pick up cursing from another source. All you can do is control your own mouth (and temper) teach them that cursing isn’t the best idea and hope they don’t say something inappropriate in a large crowd. Unless someone catches it on vid, then it’s hysterical.