When the girls were little, well I guess Bails is still only in 2nd grade, but we had a list of words that we didn’t want them saying. Naturally, the usual suspects were on the list…I also added Pelosi, Ravens and Francisco Cabrera. Our list included some words that I think there are varying degrees of parental intensity regarding their use by children. Normally, these are words that you likely use yourself and don’t cause convulsions among the masses. When uttered by your own children sound far worse than you’d suspect. Among those words: butt, stupid, fart and shutup. Recently, the girls have lobbied to revisit this list.
They wanted to know if they were officially cleared of any wrongdoing should they say “crap.” Before I could answer, Riley wanted to know about “sucks.”
After all, I never really formally added “crap” or “sucks” to the list. Mostly because they are among my favorite words.
This raises an interesting question. Are either of these bad words? If they are, then for whom? I mean what is the age at which you are able to utter these two staples of American lexicon? When I was a kid “sucks” was a bad word. Not like the f-bomb or even the s-word but there was definitely more jeopardy attached to it than “damn” or “hell.” But let’s face it, “damn” and “hell” are like the ’76 Buccanneers of curse words. They are low level curse words. But “sucks” kind of occupied a level somewhere between those two and the s-word. I mean it was really funny was somebody said it – like Al Czervik in Caddyshack. But you didn’t get grounded if you said it. By the way I did have my mouth washed out with soap for saying “fart” when I was in 1st grade. Didn’t really make sense to me then…although my folks did engage in the time tested parenting practice of inventing words to serve as synonym. Instead of fart, we’d say pookie – as in cookie.
Regardless, after some minor contemplation and reflection and a short but serious internal debate, “sucks” has officially been placed on the Do Not Say list for the girls. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Rye will still say it when she’s with her friends. But she won’t say in front of us or other adults.
Now, “crap” on the other hand, I don’t have a problem with. I had a friend in grade school who wasn’t allowed to say “crap.” Which, of course, was total crap. When I was a kid, my Mom even said “crapola” when she’d get mad. I’m not sure I could carry on a conversation without using “crap.” If it were an 80’s third down back, it would be James Brooks. If it were a WW II combat aircraft it would be the P-51 Mustang. If it was a TV show, it would be MacGyver. It’s versatile word that doesn’t require you to police your language.
To my surprise, there are a wide range of feelings when it comes to “crap.” Many parents simply see the word as same as the s-word. It means the same thing and it used the same way. Which naturally begs the response, “No shi…crap.”
I mean isn’t that the point? The s-word is a bad word. You can’t say it around your kids. So you say “crap.” Now don’t get me wrong, I say “freaking” all the freaking time as a substitute for the f-bomb. But I try and often fail to avoid saying it in front of the girls. I mean nobody wants their kids going through the cafeteria line at school and dropping, “Aw c’mon man, freaking chicken casserole again!”
So I guess if you are keeping score, “sucks” bad, “crap” good.