In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer. -Mark Twain

After musing with mum-friends over cake and lemon bars about kids and profanity, I had a thoughtful internal discussion with myself on the topic. I’m not yet a big parenting book reader, bypass trending parenting fads, and have let myself be mostly led by instinct. I don’t often just sit and think about parenting theory unless we have an immediate issue to consider. My deep respect and insatiable appetite for language, though, got me seriously contemplating how I’d like to eventually talk to my kids about, well, talking.

I want a child who understands language, not one who is fearful of it. I am much more impressed with a (n older) kid who can swear appropriately than one who avoids certain words completely. Granted, I’m not talking about five-year olds. But there does come a point when lessons about context and discourse communities become productive. For instance, dropping a glass alone in the kitchen with a $%&#! is certainly not the same as &$^% you, perhaps not even in the same genre of communication. A twelve-year old initiating a friendly peer conversation outside of school with a “Hey, @$$#*%^!” and a high-five is in a completely different galaxy than coming home after school to a parent with the same greeting. On the parenting end, there’s also the matter of context; wanting your child to know how to swear is not synonymous with wanting your child to swear.

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JESS |JES| noun Unapologetic ice cream enthusiast, devoted equine fanatic, ungrudging émigré, sartorial voyager, writer of all genres, photographic archivist of the everyday. Prone to spontaneous profanity and inappropriately timed bouts of laughter.

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