One thing I have picked up about today’s teenagers is a surprising lack of profanity in their limited actual conversations.They still swear for extra emphasis, and when very angered Kayla can curse with ease, but even if out of my earshot they swear twice as much as I think, this is still a quarter of the vulgarity we used at that age. I’m ruling out gender as part of the equation because although the words might be slightly different, I’ve never found women to be any less profane than men. When properly riled, my wife can peel paint off walls and make a sailor blush.
I remember being eight or nine years old, preparing to leave for a friend’s birthday party. As she was sealing the card, my mother noticed that in a back corner, in as small a printing as I could manage, I had written every curseword that I knew. I was unable to explain why to her satisfaction. Didn’t she understand how cool I was being?
Somehow our current PC society has made swearing un-cool. The fact that this generation no longer uses homophobic or bigoted phrases to describe each other is a fantastic societal accomplishment that happened in a relatively short time frame, but MFer? I wouldn’t have guessed that MFer would ever go out of style.
My grandfather learned English as a second language. He was always especially fond of the curses. My father was a construction worker. Those that know me can attest that my vocabulary is very F-centric.
I’ve always tried to censor myself around Kayla. For many years it was simply an attempt to set a good example. Now? It’s also to avoid the the look of contempt it brings when I slip up. I’ll never take too seriously the judgement of a teenage girl, but if you’ve seen one of their looks of contempt, you know that it can be highly effective.
The three year old, however, unfortunately thinks swearing is very cool. She wasn’t much over two when she sweetly asked her mother if “it would be OK if she wore her “f@#% ing shoes today?” Apparently daddy had a hard time locating her sneakers the day before. She’s also been know to use” GDit”when things aren’t going her way, and “for f@#%’s sake” when exasperated. There was a time when she would often sweetly ask to “whisper a secret in your ear.” This secret often turned out to be a naughty word.
Superhuman effort is taken to not swear in front of her. My head may actually explode one day.
She has been scolded, threats of punishment made, time-outs given. As her vocabulary rapidly expands and she finds new and improved ways to make us crazy, the novelty of cursing seems to be wearing off.
We’ll see how long that lasts.