Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why Can't You Just Say Ouch?

“Oh Sh*t,” I swore as the jam jar slipped out of my hand, bounced off my barefoot, and exploded on the tiled kitchen floor. “Everybody out of the kitchen!” I yelled, continuing to mutter like a sailor.

“I’ll get your shoes, Mommy,” Liam, shod in orange crocs, slid off a stool toward my bedroom. I tip-toed around the shattered glass and strawberry ooze to the sink, and got a towel.

Liam handed me my flip flops, and raised his blond eyebrows to me quizzically. “Mommy, why can’t you just say ouch?” He sighed. “When you get hurt, you say bad words.”

My jaw dropped. He was right. I cleaned up my language when my kids were babies and toddlers, but now that they’ve moved into elementary school, I shoot my mouth off whenever it lets me blow off steam. I’m not an R rated movie babbling profanity, but I’ve got no problem letting a few choice four letter words out when it makes a point… even if it’s an irrelevant or self-indulgent point.

Liam continued, “Even when I get hurt you say bad words and I’m the once who’s hurt. AND, if I say bad words, I get in trouble. What is that about?”

“You know what it’s about?” my husband said later when I was telling him about the jam and the swear words. “You hate being inconvenienced. Anything that even remotely changes the way you want things to be makes you mad, and you let everyone know it.”

I hate conviction. It’s humbling and painful, and it makes me feel helpless and pathetic. If flies in the face of everything I’d like to believe about myself. Tracy was right about the root of my reaction. I swear because I don’t want a broken toe, I don’t want to listen to a whiny child, and I really don’t want another trip to the ER. I lack compassion and sympathy. And truthfully, I don’t mind swearing sometimes. It feels sophisticated and powerful, succinct and honest. But, there is no place for it in my vocabulary with my kids. I can hardly require them to control their tongues when I couldn’t be bothered to reign in mine. And the last message I want to send to them is that their injuries are an inconvenience.

So, as Liam requested, I am going to try to “just say ouch.” Otherwise I promised him that he could wash my mouth out with soap.