My Bad Habits: Some Preliminary Thoughts

I referred to someone, a stranger, as a “cockwad” the other day. Sunday. It was Sunday. It was an unpleasant day, for the most part, for many reasons. Though it snowed heartily and I claim to love the snow, I forgot, when declaring my love, that I am trapped in Toddler Town, a district where the toys all suck and the snow is weird and might eat your feet and all you want is a cookie dammit why won’t your mother give you cookie upon cookie upon cookie? Why?

This has the potential to deteriorate so I’ll leave it there; my point is not to bitch about my kid, whom I love and treasure, but to mention that yesterday I could have sworn he, in turn, called someone a “cockwad” or version thereof.

He was actually saying “cake.”

I’m of mixed opinions around swearing in front of my child(ren). It’s supposed to be wrong, right? Because we want our children to learn “good” habits and to be citizens who are not rude or inappropriate. But I think if I can teach my kid context as well as terminology, I will be doing him a favour.

I do think it’s important that people know what they’re saying when they swear. To gauge the level of insult, if warranted. For each family, it’s a different sort of value statement to call someone a “shithead” versus a “numbnuts.” For me, it’s all about how pleasantly and easily the words roll off my tongue. I don’t especially like the word “shit” because it’s too top-of-the-tongue. There’s not enough gutteral. On the other hand, I don’t know that I want to explain what “cockwad” is to my kid while we plow through the Safeway parking lot. My answer, I think, would be, “it’s a nonsense word. It doesn’t really mean anything.” And then when he’s old enough to figure it out, he’ll realize his mother was a filthy beast. I’ll be long since moved to another city by then, though.

But here’s what happened: it was snowing like crazy and we had no choice but to go to the close Safeway, which is a) right off the highway b) being renovated so the pedestrian path through the parking lot is long gone and c) being renovated so the SIDEWALK to the other entrance is permanently closed.

What else do you do, when it has taken two of you to push the stroller through snowdrifts and you finally get to where the overhang is at the front of the store, only instead of sweet, dry space what you find is cars, idling in front of the door, waiting for their sweethearts to pick up a box of cookies, ignoring the large, empty parking lot, instead BLOCKING YOUR PATH with their vehicles with their lights on and their engines running, the drivers of which LOOKING YOU IN THE EYE while you kick slush maliciously all over their headlights and then, while you wheel around them with some difficulty, necessitating the pushing of your stroller into the oncoming path of a DELIVERY TRUCK, have the nerve to offer a pitying glance. MR SUV MAN I AM TALKING ABOUT YOU. What else do you do?

I would have let it go, but when we exited the store, half an hour later, the guy in the SUV was still sitting there, waiting for something (the snow to stop?) his big, important engine still thrumming. I think, in a situation like that, that everyone within hearing distance, including my son, should know that I think he is a cockwad. Because maybe he never had Parking Lot Justice modeled for him and that’s why he’s such an inconsiderate jerk. Right? I bet he is careful to teach his kids not to swear while at the same time he behaves like an oaf – behavior they are internalizing and memorizing. And while my kid might mimic my bad language and that might, at some point, be embarrassing to me, I would hope that he will learn important values from me as well, which in the long haul will be more important to society than whether or not he chooses to say “fuck” or “fudge” out in public.

(Yes, my values include swearing where it is warranted. And judging strangers in parking lots who might be waiting for their elderly mothers to get their tv dinners for the week. You can send your Parent Of the Year nominations to the committee starting next week.)

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7 Responses to My Bad Habits: Some Preliminary Thoughts

  1. Jacqueline says:

    Yes, well you have some stiff competition for the Parent of the Year award right over here. Not only does having a two year old running around fail to put a dent in our colourful language, but when said two year old mispronounces a word that sounds vaguely rude “fire fruck!”, his loving, doting parents insist he say it over and over. We do wait until he has moved onto a new activity before we dissolve in paroxysms of laughter.

    Between that and the excessive cookies my kiddo gets to keep quiet, you are simply going to have to try harder. 😀

  2. Beth says:

    One of my favourite memories of parenting: I am visiting my grey-haired mother with my precocious 18 month old. She is sitting on the couch on top of a blanket. She attempts to pull the blanket up to cover herself but it won’t budge because she is sitting on it. She pulls and pulls and then throws the edge of blanket back on the couch with a very loud, “God dammit!”
    I look sheepishly at my mother who calmly says, “She certainly knows how to use it appropriately.”
    And that, after all, is the point of your blog, right?

  3. MonkeyPants says:

    Cockwad is a fantastic thing to call someone, as long as they deserve it. And SUV drivers blocking the paths of stroller-pushing, gestating women? They deserve it.

    I have adopted many expressions from my British friends that are handy in situations like this: bellend, twat or twee twat, numpty (less severe), and arsemunch. They have come in mighty handy when I can’t use the Big Bad Swear Words.

  4. mo-wo says:

    That cockwad is a total pig. Or a concerned son. Fucking duality.

  5. p-man says:

    I meant to sign that.

  6. Arwen says:

    MP – Twat is a Very Bad Word among some I know, so be careful with that one as a ‘safe word’.

  7. cheesefairy says:

    Jacqueline – I shall step it up, if possible. Jello for dinner!

    Yes, Beth, exactly my point.

    And back in elementary school, I was a shameful participant in converting a less-popular classmate’s late name into “twat” and we all knew it was bad. We just didn’t know why.