I have a terrible mouth. Really. Ever since I discovered cursing, my language has gotten progressively worse, and in college it was safe to say that I could rarely form a sentence without an expletive thrown in. To say I cursed like a sailor seems like a bit of an understatement.
Of course, the birth of my daughter caused me to make an immediate change in my choice of words. The majority of the time, you might hear me using such dangerous phrases as 'Geeze Louise', 'Son of a bee sting' or 'Mother of pearl'. Every time I feel myself getting worked up and on the verge of spouting out some atrocious set of words, I feel those little, blue innocent eyes looking up at me waiting to hear what I'm about to say. And given the fact that at her age, she's essentially a parrot, I've developed an amazing amount of self-control and ability to censor myself.
But, sometimes I slip. And on rare occasion, I've slipped big time. One such occasion occurred just the other day, when I was participating in my most common curse-inducing activity..
I have no patience on the road. Zero. Zilch. I am that person that you see on your morning commute that is hitting the steering wheel and screaming like they just escaped from the sanitarium. 'Road rage' often seems like too innocent of a phrase to describe the furies I can get into when people are driving like morons.
|I think this guy forgot to put a few fingers down.|
Despite this fact, I've done a really good job of keeping my temper in check when I have Ava in the car. But recently, I was driving along like any other evening, when some mental giant cut me off and slammed on his brakes. I narrowly avoided bashing into his car, and all I could think was 'If my daughter gets hurt right now, I will go to jail for murdering this person on the side of the road'. After normal traffic resumed, and I had pulled myself together, I realized that I had definitely cursed during this situation, but honestly didn't remember exactly what I had said. Until a little voice emerged from the backseat that clued me in..
Oh. Oh dear God. As Ralphie from A Christmas Story would say, I dropped the queen mother of all dirty words, and Ava played it right back for me as a reminder of how terrible of a person I am.
With my jaw now hitting the gas pedal and my heart rate skyrocketing, I panicked to figure out how to address this with her. The only thing I could think of was to say "No no, we don't say that, that's bad!" Of course, she's staring at my blankly, and I can hear the tiny voice in her head saying, "Wwell then why did you say it, idiot?" And why wouldn't she stare at me blankly? She's 2, she doesn't know what a 'bad' word is, she's still wrapping her head around what a WORD even is.
I essentially realized that there was nothing I could do at the moment, other than hope that she didn't repeat it again, and use the scenario as a reminder to be constantly aware of what's coming out of my mouth. Fortunately, she didn't say it again, though I was on pins and needles for the entire drive, hoping that this phrase wouldn't suddenly become a staple of her toddler lexicon. I was just imagining her wandering around saying "Elmo? Mickey? Chicken? Fucking idiot?"
I felt like a terrible parent. A terrible person, really. But as the night went on, my guilt subsided as I realized that I'm obviously not the first person to curse in front of their child, even the first person to drop the good old F-Bomb. Ava isn't going to grow up to be some maladjusted ne'er-do-well simply because I had a spell of road rage.
I know the cursing sailor in me will never completely die, but the key is learning to control when he makes his presence known.
What about you, parents? Have you had a moment where your inner sailor came back to haunt you?