Thursday, December 6, 2012

Children and Profanity

By Blake Friis

Parenthood is loaded with challenges. There are daily struggles of diapers and feeding, and long term worries about the changing world and how to equip a child to survive, let alone thrive in it.

But what concerns me most is that I can’t seem to stop saying ‘fuck’ in front of my son.

He is a verbal sponge and I know I am in danger of creating the most foul-mouthed parrot ever to roam the Greater Dallas daycare scene, but the more I attempt to reel myself in, the more the goddamn Bears blow consecutive leads at home to Pete-Scumbag-Carroll and the Seattle-Fucking-Seahawks.

Sometimes it feels like the world is conspiring against you. Actually, most of the time when you root for Chicago sports teams.

Parenthood is also loaded with lessons, and you never know where they are going to come from. When a couple kids from the neighborhood knocked on our door Sunday afternoon and asked if they could play with Gabe, I gained a whole new perspective on the value of squashing my free-cursing nature.

The dynamic of a suburban neighborhood is not a complicated. There are adults and there are kids, and if you can only befriend one, choose the kids. They’re a pleasant source of entertainment, and more importantly, very forthcoming with the dirty laundry of neighborhood grown-ups.

As the sweet little girl from down the street launched into an unprovoked monologue about her parents’ delinquent rent payments, I realized we are not dealing with parrots, we’re dealing with little journalists who unapologetically report “off the record” observations.

I no longer fear the words my child might repeat; I fear the things he might report.

Because we are the youngest couple on the block, and because every little girl on the block wants to be Summer when they grow up, our house has become a relatively high-traffic area. The annoyance of other people’s children hanging around would be trying if they weren’t so damn good at inflating our egos.

“Blake, can you teach me how to make the football spiral like that?”
“Summer, I knew you were good at sports because you’re skinny and you run a lot.”

They should run for office. I would literally vote for them tomorrow.

The compliments took on a new meaning when they shifted from our athletic prowess to the vibe within our home. The kids were quick to acknowledge how laid back we are and how well we seem to get along, which is apparently not always the case with their folks. One kid talked about hearing her parents fight over money. Another discussed his concern with the age gap between his dad and stepmother, a viewpoint that – given his age – has almost assuredly been cultivated by his mother.

The inside scoop on the neighbors personal business is definitely the kind of stuff you would like to unhear, but the kids spilling the beans have no idea they are crossing a line. We find ourselves uncomfortably attempting to steer them back to the story about their older brother pissing his pants while watching the SEC Championship.

Dropping F-bombs in the presence of my son was something I decided I better work on. After learning how openly kids talk about their parents, good or bad, I am scaling those efforts well beyond cursing. The adult issues we deal with have to remain between adults, so our kids can enjoy being kids.

Parenthood is loaded with heavy shit like that.

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