When words are coming out of my mouth, I feel a bit sloppy and loud. I find that my jokes fall on their heads (or are dropped on their heads right after birth) and I have a terrible time discerning at what volume I should be speaking. Speak over the loudness of life, or wait for it to be quiet? Is my laugh too much and what was that word…that word…that word? I have lackluster timing, and end up interrupting and even worse, speaking over people. Many times I wish for a verbal delete key because really, really did I just tell my son’s pediatrician that I have “Good Looking” tattooed on my ass? I mean, I don’t. But was that the comment I made?? (True story. I said those words. After he commented on my “Lucky” and “Loved” tattoos on my arms. It sounded f-u-n-n-y in my head and then not that funny 1/2 second later when Roan was rolling his eyes. And then I died one thousand times but the pediatrician laughed, mercifully.) Delete! Verbal White-Out!
Yet I continue to speak, unedited. Much to the chagrin of my eldest. See, Roan Call is a mighty mighty rule-follower. And the older he gets, the more he seems to be bent on defying me by not only being a blindingly good child, but by also becoming more aware of what a blindingly inappropriate mother I can be, at times. Let’s keep this in perspective though: I am not a particularly inclined to swear or be vulgar all that much. I have in my verbal cache an arsenal of special words I use only in extreme and dire circumstances. But my boy has been witness to said dire and extreme circumstances more than once, and is convinced that I am the only adult he knows who swears. He does not approve.
So this puts me in a thinking space that maybe only a weirdo like me would go to. Do I tell him he’s right, and that profanity has no place in an articulate and educated adult’s mouth? Or do I tell him the truth, that pretty much everyone swears or is inappropriate at least once in a while, and that guess what? It’s not that big of a deal. In fact, it’s even ok. But kids can’t do it and that’s that.
But what I think is dangerous and maybe even more confusing is the idea that right is right and wrong is wrong and that there is no in-between. Being raised in an ultra-religious home, I (maybe inadvertently) received the message that people were either good or bad. That if you started doing bad things, you were a bad person, and then your fate was sealed so the end. And this belief kind of sent me askew once I started testing the waters of bad behavior. It was the idea of, “Well, I’ve started behaving badly so I may as well keep on, but more! Now, move on over slightly bad behavior – here’s something meatier!”
I want my boy to at least get the idea that everyone has different sides. There aren’t really bad people. Just bad ideas. Ok, that’s probably not true. I know a few bad people. But the point is, I want him to open up his mind just a bit – to see that good people can do “bad” things, and still maintain their goodness. Most importantly, that when he eventually and inevitably lets himself down by making a decision he regrets, it doesn’t mean he’s a bad kid. It just means that he’s like his mama, someone who is wrong, inappropriate, slightly bad, and totally committed to being the best person possible. Then moving on.
I get this message to him by swearing in front of him on occasion, by being a little off-color on occasion, and by always trying to do right by the people I love. Backwards parenting, to be sure. But if Roan is any indication of how it’s working, I’m cool. So I will keep on talking to my iPhone robot named Siri and asking her if she’s “Siri-Ass” about the things she says. And Roan will keep hissing at me to stop. But in the future, he may look back at me and laugh. Which will be awesome because somebody besides me needs to.