Well, I’m pretty sure that I have your attention now. If you speak Hebrew it’s because I just *gasp* swore. In my title. I know! And if you aren’t a Hebrew speaker (reader?), it’s because you’re curious about what that little word with all of those syllables is all about.
Go ahead and look it up right here. And then come right on back because I’m not quite done talking about this yet.
Welcome back. Don’t say I never taught you anything.
Kids repeat everything that we say. And much of what we do. And I do mean everything– the good, the bad and the stuff that we really, really wish that they wouldn’t. We work oh-so-very-hard to make sure that they say their pleases and thank yous (check), chew with their mouths um- closed (still working on this one) and use their silverware instead of well, their fingers (sadly, rudely, grossly still working on this one as well).
We model, goal-set and read up on how to live our lives in the best possible ways. For ourselves, but also (sometimes mostly), for our children. We want them to notice, remember and carry on our best traits. Not our…wait for it…foul ones.
Except when it comes to language, we Mamas sometimes slip, flub and just plain talk crudely. Not at someone, mind you. But when telling a juicy story. Or while living our lives. Late (again), stained shirt (again), spilled milk (again). And then it just kind of slips-rightonout. All natural and normal. You know, like it’s okay or something.
I think it’s fascinating, hilarious and somewhat confusing that we Mamas do this. At least many of us. Not you, of course. I didn’t mean you. But for the rest of us, is it the sleep deprivation? Or the amount of time spent talking about colors? And animals? And the colors of animals? Are those the things that make us talk like that?
As you all know I consider my Israeli Mama friends to be some of the sassiest and bad-assiest of the bunch so I asked them what they thought and I, of course, learned a thing. Or two.
In Israeli mentality, what’s considered a swear word is much broader than what we’re used to here. It includes words like metumtemet (stupid), mechueret (ugly), and magila (disgusting). And the whole cursing phenomenon that’s sweeping our Mamas? Not so much happening in Israel. Words with a negative connotation are just generally not used by the Mama set. And if you do use them? It’s perceived as a sign of being a tad bit uncultured, that you’re capable of violence or simply that you still need to grow out of it, and hopefully soon.
I know that in general in the States, we favor kindness. But I just don’t think that we’d ever consider mean words to be uncouth or swear words. But maybe we should? It’s much easier to fathom explaining to my kids why those are bad words rather than the ones that “mommy sometimes says when something’s really, really ouchy!”
I had two favorite caveats from the swear-talk explanations from the Mamas. The first was about that unsavory, but quite often muttered under our breath, word: s#!t. One Mama shared that it’s not considered a swear word by most Israelis. It’s pronounced sheeeet, is often uttered by the most dignified and that many people don’t actually know what it means. I had forgotten all about this phenomenon and joltedly remembered how shocked I was the first time that I heard it in Israel. It was a similar experience to the first time that I heard a Minnesotan student say, “crap,” which is considered just fine to say here in the Midwest. Since “bad language” seems to be wrapped around meaning and intention, I do think it’s interesting that we have “stand-in words.” Do they then become the “naughty words” because their intention is, you know, bad?
And the second caveat that I love so-very-much? On the highway, anything goes. I’m kind of thinking ’nuff said about that one.
I remember friends sharing tales of their own Mamas’ word choices and thinking, telling, even proclaiming that mine was just about as innocent as can be. I practically envisioned a halo lighting up (ding!) every time that she talked. Why? Because I honestly couldn’t pinpoint a time when I heard her say a “bad” word. You know, like all of the other moms. Until, that is, I heard her exclaim l’azazel when our car wouldn’t start. Or we were late to one thing. Or we forgot something else.
And then I realized something important. An angel, my Ima is not. But smart? That she is. Perhaps I should find a choice word or two that my kids don’t know and aren’t likely to repeat so that you (yes, you) don’t hear “frickin” from Chloe or “crap” from Kayli. Sigh.
When I spill on my clothes (this happens often), or I drop something on my toes (also, interestingly enough, happens often) it really “ticks me off.” I personally have never thought of this phrase as being in the not-to-say category. But when I heard Chloe repeating it this week, I cringed inside because it sounded all wrong coming from her sweet (debatable, but only sometimes) self. So I decided to sit right down and have a little talk about our language, young lady! And indeed, we did sit down together. I took a deep breath, smiled and then realized that I had no idea what to say! I can say it, but you can’t? It’s okay at home but not out? Other people might find it offensive?
While I can easily explain not saying “stupid,” my best reason for not saying “frickin” is that I don’t really want other people judging my parenting based on my kids’ penchant for “bad words.” Why do we do that as Mamas? Worry so much about public parenting and what other Moms (and Dads) think? And “for heaven’s sakes” (clean. oh-so-very clean word choice right there) why do we sometimes change our parenting, wording, decisions, boundaries based on other people, their kids and their parenting? Don’t we all need to say, try, do whatever works best for our kids and our family?
I guess that we all want to fit into societal norms. At least somewhat. We don’t want to be known as that mom whose that kid says that word. Or even worse, that mom whose that kid taught your kid that word. About that, sorry. Really. So what am I going to tell my kids about choice words? I’m not quite sure yet. But whatever I end up saying, it’ll be clean. I promise.
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