So I’m dead asleep … the kind of sleep that only an overworked mother knows. My dreams are pulling me somewhere between dancing Manolo Blahniks and flying penguins (and we all know penguins don’t fly). That’s when I hear …
“Is f!#k a bad word?”
Now at 6:17am on a Saturday, I’m not looking to have a conversation with my 7 year old about anything. Never mind curse words. But blue language must be explained and stopped when it rears its ugly head. So I open one bleary eye and say yes. And don’t say that again. It’s a very bad word and could get you kicked out of school.
At this point I’m thinking, “OK, great, disaster averted, pull the covers off the sleeping hubby and go back to dreamland.” Then I heard the dreaded really bad word – why?
How do you explain bad words vs. good words vs. words Mommy & Daddy are allowed to say when they’ve dropped a hammer on their toe, but that you are never allowed to say until you are old enough to show I.D. at a bar … all at the crack of dawn on the one day you don’t have to get out of bed and pull yourself together enough to go to work?
If we all listened to the “experts” this would never really be a problem, of course. Because we’d never, ever, utter a blue word in front of our children and then could simply blame the fact that they know a cuss on their schoolmates/bandmates/grandparents/cousins/sitters. And those folks would take the blame. But as surely as I’ll probably have to fess up to having inhaled in college, I’ll mess up on this point too. Yes, I curse. Not a blue streak, but a good four letter word (my favorite is sh#!) will fly out of my mouth before I’ve had a chance to ice down my broken toe, find the hidden keys, or cut the gum out of the little one’s hair. And I apologize, profusely, which probably makes it all that much more interesting for my son to test the limits of saying the aforementioned bad word(s). Like the existence of Haagen-Dazs ice cream, curse words are the major element of a vicious cycle.
So I’m looking for the band-aid, the elliptical trainer if you will, that negates the slip and puts me squarely on the road to redemption. And I found it. Goulash. This comforting Hungarian dish, so lovingly served up by my Mom is the secret curse word my kids use. Goulash. It’s weird sounding and vaguely sinister, and worked for my sister when her kids were little. If they want to curse, they say Goulash. I pretend to be horrified, or not hear, or understand. And they have something to say when Barbie’s head falls off or the at-bat turns into a strike out, or Mommy tells them it’s time to clean up their rooms.
And when I make Goulash for dinner … I call it rump roast. Gets a chuckle every time.