Monday, July 22, 2013

A Note on Bad Language

I am led to believe that in the world of weekly bloggers (a world I aspire to), some people actually write drafts and proofread and stuff.  I, on the other hand, spend the week sitting in traffic and thinking of stuff that I plan on blogging about eventually.  In my head each thought exists fully formed, grammatically correct, cogent and steeped in wisdom.

Which is why I put it down here in the first place.  Writing this stuff down makes me realize how ridiculous these stuck-in-traffic notions often are.  Or how brilliant.  Generally the former.  Let's see how my theories about language stand up....

Those of you who know me, know that I am prone to the swears.  I think it's just silly to say "shoot" when you mean "shit";  "fudge" when you mean "fuck."  Words have meanings.  There is a qualitative difference between "what the heck" and "what the hell."  The one I say is the one I mean.

On the other hand, polite people (and I really do strive to be one) temper their language based on their audience.  I would not, for example, kick off a girl scout meeting with, "Would you little shits zip it?"  If I get pulled over for speeding, I'm not going to say "Oh what the fuck, officer." Although, it is true that in both circumstances I'm probably thinking it...

And that brings me to Laney.  Laney lives with me. I am with her all the time. Our filters have been exhausted.  We are who we are, warts and all.  I no longer even try to watch my language in front of her.  She used to complain, but then I'd tell her that there are some privileges commensurate with adulthood and while I can drive a car, drink coke for breakfast and say "fuck",  she can put both her feet behind her head, eat four pounds of pasta a day without gaining weight, and her skin is always like buttah.  It was fucking fair, in a word (or two).

And then Laney finished fourth grade and the two of us sort of mutually decided she'd be allowed to swear in front of me.  She says "shit" and "hell," but steers clear of the mother-of-them-all. Don gives her less profanity latitude.  She's had to figure out what she can say in front of me and what she can say in front of Don.  She knows she can't say any of it in front of other adults and shouldn't say them in front of other kids (oh, who are we kidding...) .

We haven't even tried to formulate rules about it.  I've told her that so long as I feel like she's respecting me, she can use whatever words she wants to express herself.  Don just tells her when he doesn't like the way she's talking.  It's tricky for her.  But I still think it's a good lesson.  There's no rule book teaching us how to talk to people.  We have to figure it out as we go along.  And Laney's learning that within the confines of her own home.

Or I'm completely screwing her up.

Either she'll end up crippled by anxiety whenever she has to talk to someone she doesn't know or she'll dazzle at cocktail parties,  the most keenly articulate gal in the room.  One or the other....