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By Any Other Name

October 14, 2010

I wrote this post a while ago, when my son was three and my daughter was five. Now my son is five and he learned the letter “A” in school today. We were going around the table during dinner thinking of “A” words when Chris asked who was going to say the funny one, so of course, I said “asshole.”

The kids cracked up.

Then, Graham said “apeshit” and we all cracked up. It turns out he also said “apeshit” in Kindergarden today.  Mrs. B, his teacher, gently corrected it to “Apepoop” which reminded me of this old post, so I dug it out of mothballs.

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June 1, 2009

I curse freely in front of my kids. We talk about it, how some words are rude, and when, and when not, to use those words.

They do not curse.

Instead, they have seized on the words their friends use at school to be offensive. “Boody. “Toot.” “Poop.” You know, the ones other moms use with a little “tee hee” titillating taboo. It makes the other kids laugh, and it gets a rise out of their teachers evidently because Mrs W. asked me to speak with Graham about using potty words — specifically words he would never hear at home. The cute euphemisms.

What really gets a rise out of their teachers, though, is when one of the other kids curses. Georgia came home one day and reported that <unnamed boy> had said “shit” and been sent to the principal.

“Was he talking about his own poop, or was he using it as an expletive?”

“His own poop.”

“Wow. I wonder why he did that — it’s really inappropriate. Especially at school.”

“Mom, you say shit.”

“Well, yes. But only when it is appropriate.”

“Like when?”

“Mostly when I make a mistake or forget something important, and I am mad and want to express how mad I am. That is what an expletive is for.”

“Thats when you usually say ‘aaaargh’ or ‘rats.'”

“Well, yes, because saying shit is rude and I like to be polite.”

“When else would you say shit.”

“When there are toys everywhere and I tell you to clean up the shit off the floor before I throw it away. But it would be rude to call your toys shit.”

“You say to clean the crap off the floor or else you will throw it away.”

“Well, crap is not as rude a word as shit.”

<light bulb goes off>

“You know the one time I really do say shit? It’s like this. You know about monkeys, right? Well, monkeys do this thing where they throw their poop around, at other monkeys and at people. They do it in nature to make other monkeys go away, and not eat their food or get in their space, and they do it in zoos or cages because they are mad at being in captivity. That’s why you only see a few species of monkeys in zoos, because most kinds of monkeys throw their poop around, and that does not work in zoos. Can you imagine? And so, when someone pitches a big giant fit ….. <Mom stares at Georgia> it’s called going apeshit because someone is acting like a monkey, yelling and throwing poop around. Only not throwing poop. People don’t do that.

“In fact, I have a brilliant idea. The next time you pitch a big fit, I’m going to call it going apepoop.”

And I did.

And that was the end of the temper tantrums.

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