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Sunday, December 15th, 2013
Half your life ago, which was a year and half ago, I wrote “My Toddler’s [Bleep] Potty Mouth.”
Back in those days, when you tried to say the word “cookie,” it came out as… a word I’m not going to say on record.
You didn’t have the ability to announce certain sounds, so a completely innocent word could end up being something that would be censored on cable TV.
These days, however, you can pronounce most sounds you need to and therefore, “accidental curse words” are less of an occurrence.
However, I’m picking up on what I call “the 3 year-old version of cursing.”
Today Mommy was out with a friend for a little while, as part of her monthly designated girlfriend time (my designated guy friend time was a few weeks ago when I went with some friends to see Thor: The Dark World… then Hunger Games: Catching Fire), so this afternoon I stayed home with you cleaning our “2 and a half” bathrooms.
It was time for your noontime nap, but I really wanted to get the cleaning out of the way before you went to sleep.
So I made you a deal…
You followed me to each of the bathrooms as I cleaned them. While I scrubbed the sinks, toilets, and tubs with Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Peppermint Soap, you read me stories from a book your aunt Jeneane recently mailed you for Christmas: Best-Loved Children’s Stories.
As I was kneeling down to clean the shower drain, I heard you say, “Poo you! I poke you in the eye!”
I paused for a moment, as I did my best to keep you from hearing me laugh.
Then I walked out of the bathroom doorway to come see which storyline could have motivated that kind of dialogue.
“The purple page, Daddy,” you explained as you flipped back a few pages, to show me the part in “Ali Baba” where a thief annoyingly questions a lady store worker.
I’m guesing it was she that told the thief, “Poo you! I poke you in the eye!”
What a clever curse from the mind of a 3 year-old. I mean, I don’t want you repeating that at school, where you probably heard it to begin with.
But seriously, that’s pretty funny!
Check out the 25 Manners Kids Should Know. Then, shop for your kid’s new favorite book to read.
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Tuesday, April 9th, 2013
2 years, 4 months.
Sunday afternoon as we were pulling out of the Kroger parking lot from filling up Mommy’s car with gas, you shouted:
“Red Jeep! I want to see it!Bow! Red Jeep! Bow! My red Jeep!”
I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the red Jeep Wrangler you were referring to, but we weren’t going to turn the car around just so you could take a peek at a red Jeep, which you are guaranteed to see at least 5 of on the drive to daycare everyday.
(Nashville is overly saturated with Jeep Wranglers; not that that’s a bad thing!)
With a very confused look on my face, I asked Mommy, “Wait, what is he saying? Bow? Like it rhymes with pow or how, except it’s bow?”
She explained, “Yeah, that’s his new word he yells out when he doesn’t get what we wants.”
Turns out, you’ve been using “bow!” on a daily basis, as I later learned from Mommy. You even have a hand gesture to accompany your exclamatory word: You pretend to throw a ball at the person you saying it to.
Basically, it’s a lot like like that scene on the movie Step Brothers where Rob Riggle just keeps shouting out “pow!” and no one really understands why or even what word he’s actually saying.
You’ve learned you can’t get away with yelling “no!” to us, so you’ve crafted a new defiant word that makes it difficult for Mommy and me to take you too seriously.
I’m actually quite impressed by your creativity. For now, “bow” will remain a parent-approved curse word for you to use.
Personally, I enjoy watching and hearing you say it because it’s so hilarious to see you so passionately shout out a word that is ultimately meaningless, though it does a good job of helping you express how you feel.
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Saturday, October 13th, 2012
Sometimes I just get in a 1990′s grunge mood.
Last week as I drove my nearly 2 year-old son home from daycare, I was in a somber trance as I let the music of Live’s Throwing Copper album flow through the stereo speakers of my Honda Element.
As I listened to the 8th track of the album, in which the title itself consists a word deemed too obscene to spoken on cable TV, yet it is the normal word for “poop” in most other countries, I realized that in a couple of years, I probably won’t get to listen to whatever I want to in the car anymore; as least not without giving him some lengthly explanation:
“You see, son, that word is a bad word. You can’t say it in school or at home because you’ll get in trouble. It means the exact same thing as “poop” but, as a society, we collectively give more negative power to the other word, therefore we’re not supposed to say it.
I know that almost sounds conflicting with what I normally tell you about how we shouldn’t care about what people think about us, but this is an exception. We have to go along with the rules of society on this one.”
Type any “cuss word” in the search box on The Dadabase and you’ll probably come up with no related articles. It’s just not my style.
However, I’m not too worried about the words that society chooses as “inappropriate.” I’m less concerned about any particular words and more focused on the messages we send with all words we use instead; as well as the tone we use when we speak.
As a person whose religion teaches him to loves his neighbor as himself, the challenge for me is to refrain from using language that is judgmental, condescending, prideful, or laced in gossip.
To me, that’s the kind of language that is set on fire by the flames of hell. Not the word “hell” itself.
So as my son grows old enough to understand society’s goofy rules on which words we can and can not say, that’s what I’m going to teach him:
“Don’t say those certain ‘cuss words’ because then you’ll get in trouble. More importantly, let’s focus on the words we can say. Let’s find ways to build people up with our words.”
Granted, my words are no good if I’m not already taking my own advice.
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Sunday, September 23rd, 2012
As parents we have to be very aware of what our children are exposed to, especially in our own homes.
So what would change if there was no censorship on TV?
I think it’s only natural for our first reaction to possibly be that we assume there would automatically be constant f-words and racial slurs, marathons of pornography, and live assassinations and other types of violent, bloody viewings of people losing their lives.
The funny thing is, people who want to see those kind of things are able to watch them any time they want… on the Internet, where there already is no censorship.
But TV is much different than the Internet; TV more controllably directs millions of people to one program at once, therefore making sponsorship a more fickle thing.
There’s this whole concept of “things you can’t say or do on TV” but the truth is, we the people, the free market, are the ones deciding the ultimate standards we see on television.
The halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII is the best example I can think of. Yeah, that was the one with the infamous “Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake” incident.
The FCC, The Federal Communications Commission, fined the CBS network a record $550,000; because so many people called in to complain.
It’s safe to say that the majority of those people who complained were parents who were offended by what the network allowed their children to see on TV.
My best understanding of censorship on television is this:
Each TV network has its own censors, who decide what subject matter is too racy or vulgar to keep them in good standing with A) The FCC and B) their viewers.
In other words, the TV networks are simply making an effort to avoid getting fined and losing viewers, which means they lose sponsors for their programs.
For example, American society has decided that the word “sh–” is too vulgar to be spoken on the major networks, meanwhile, “g.d.” is not.
In fact, this past Friday I watched Primetime: What Would You Do? where “sh–” was bleeped out but “g.d.” was clearly spoken, uncensored.
Even a decade ago, “g.d.” was still too taboo for us to hear on TV without flinching.
But speaking of breaking the 3rd commandment, using God’s name in vain, I think we’ve got things a bit mixed up.
We tend to think of “g.d.” as meaning “curse God” when really it’s the other way around; “God-cursed.” In its worst use, “g.d.” is like saying “God forsaken” because the worst way to be cursed by God is to be sentenced to a state of being where He is not present.
But I think it’s safe to say that none of us are offended by hearing “God forsaken” even though it means the same thing as “g.d.”
Ironically, what isn’t really offensive anymore to hear on TV is when people say “Oh my God!” which seems to be the unofficial catch-phrase of the show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
(I’ve noticed that’s what people yell repeatedly when they enter their new house for the first time.)
To me, “Oh my God” is more offensive than “g.d.” because “Oh my God” is so careless; at least “g.d.” indirectly recognizes God’s sovereignty.
I use this example of “g.d.” to point out this: Obscenity is simply in the perception of the individual, or more relevantly, the majority.
So to answer the question of what would change if there was no censorship on TV, I’d say it would be this:
Many people would be less likely to watch TV, not having a guideline of what to expect.
The flip side is that TV networks would probably be even more conservative on what they allowed on their programs, without having official censors working for them to professionally protect them.
Censorship serves to protect TV networks from losing money, not to protect us from what we don’t want to see or hear.
Otherwise, we’d be more careful to censor the TV ourselves; which is why I don’t watch much on TV to begin with.
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Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
You can no longer say the “m-word” on TV.
No, green slime will not fall on your head if you do, but the censors will bleep the word out, even on Comedy Central: It’s “little people” now.
But when I was a kid in the Eighties, there was no chance of being reprimanded or corrected if you used the “m-word.”
Similarly, the “r-word” is dangerous to use as well. I remember back in 2008 when Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder drew controversy and even inspired a petition that was circulated through Facebook encouraging people not to see the movie because of the way it portrayed those with special needs.
It’s wallpapered in our brains as today’s parents of young children to know that one of the worst things to be in our society is a bigot; any type of person who looks down on or makes fun of other people for being different.
(To be honest, I’m actually a tad paranoid to even be covering this topic today for fear of being misunderstood or misquoted as one myself. What if I ironically make myself look like the kind of bully I am speaking against here?)
And that brings us to another especially unacceptable and obscene term; the “f-word.”
No, the other “f-word,” as well as the “q-word.” These days, when one of your friends from high school officially “comes out of the closet” on Facebook in a status update, you can expect to see a flood of “likes” and “hugs” and “You go girl!” comments, definitely not criticism or name-calling.
As if I needed to say it, I’m glad to see these words become demonized. I like knowing our society is reaching such a state of “bullying awareness.”
What I am seeing about our Millennial generation (born from 1980 to 2000) and our concept of vulgarity is that we’re more offended by slurs directed at minorities of every kind in society; as opposed to cursing and cussing in general.
Interestingly, we’re much less offended by the classic extreme offenders, like “g.d.” or “a-hole” or even the original f-word. In fact, it’s not even a big deal anymore to hear those words spoken on cable TV from time to time.
We’ve heard them so many times that I’m wondering if they actually are profane anymore or if we just pretend they are because it’s what we’re used to thinking.
Here’s what I know. I have a responsibility to teach my son what is and is not appropriate to say, largely based on which words I do and do not say.
It’s not up to the rating of a movie or a TV show, or which words the censors bleep out, or even which words that society deems as offensive for whatever reason.
Since a lot of my son’s future vocabulary is indeed up to me, I will guide him and strive to be the example he needs to see and hear.
I will be that person in my son’s life; to teach him not only how not to hurt others with his words, but also, how to build people up with his words, especially to those who need it the most.
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