When my kids were born, I had to break the habit of swearing. It was hard because I've been doing it since the third grade and I'm really good at it. My friend Jon and I would sit on top of the monkey bars during recess and try to come up with the most offensive combination of 'swears'. It took until high school before I realized the subtlety of offending someone. It wasn't about the offensive words themselves, but the picture you paint for them. I felt like a retiring prize fighter when Audrey was born.
She got in the car last week when I picked her up from skiing and announced that she officially swears now. Boy was I excited. I have spent the last twelve years being scolded if I accidently said the word "hell". She said that she had tried to hold off for as long as she could, but everyone she knows swears, so she finally gave in. Which is amazing. She's in the seventh grade. Maybe growing up in a crappy neighborhood gave me the edge I needed to be as good at it as I am now. I asked her what the worst word she knows was. She said, "The F word." I told her that she has to actually say the word now. She did. I told her to do it twelve more times. It was weird to hear her little voice laughing while saying fuck.
I made dinner while the two of them laid around on the couches and watched T.V. Margo, who still refuses to swear, needed a pair of scissors to open something so Audrey got up and looked in a drawer. I could hear her digging around for a while, and right when I leaned out from the kitchen to ask what she was looking for, I could hear her mutter the word "shit" in her tiny voice. It's weirdly jarring. She said it in the same crabby tone that my mom would have. I said, "What the fuck are you looking for?" and Margo was shocked. I tried to remind her that this is a swearing house now. But she didn't seem to like that. I asked Audrey if I was going to get nicknames now like "pencil dick". She said no. My first night of a swearing kid wasn't going as smoothly as I always imagined.
Last night, while Margo sat in her room facetiming with a friend, Audrey and I watched more episodes of "Riverdale". Audrey and I absentmindedly traded insults. She called me things like "divorcemen" and I called her "turd face". I had hoped for so much more from her, but there we were. Throwing the same insults back and forth that we had for the last twelve years. I stood up to get some chips and said, "Well, you have butts for legs." Then, started dancing with my arms flailing around like I was at a rave. She laughed with her little, squinty eyes and quietly said, "What the fuck are you doing?" More to herself than to me. It was cute. It's going to be a slow road, but we'll get there eventually.