September 10, 2004

Not In Front of the Children

Yesterday I was ruminating on the aggravation of getting overstimulated little girls to go to bed and mentioned that on such occassions my parting words to them are often, "Go to sleep, dammit!" My real-life friend Sparky gently commented on this and suggested a milder alternative.

I confess to using a moderate amount of profanity in front of the kids in times of irritation and annoyance - damns and blasts and what P.G. Wodehouse, in The Pothunters, put this way:

At this Jim gave vent to the exclamation which Mr. Barry Pain calls the Englishman's shortest prayer.

'My dear sir,' said Charteris. 'My very dear sir. We blush for you. Might I ask why you take the matter to heart so?'

(And speaking of Wodehouse and foul language, I heartily recommend to you the short story "Chester Forgets Himself" from The Heart of a Goof. It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of bottling it all up and features one of literature's funniest golf foursomes, the Wrecking Crew.)

I don't have any legitimate defense for cursing in front of the children except that it's an old habit and I'm getting to be a moderately old dog. At the same time, I'm not particularly worried that it's going to warp them in any way. In fact, it might be to their benefit in the long-run, insofar as I am teaching them by example that it is better for grownups to use these words for venting their emotions rather than something far fouler. (I positively detest obscenity, considering it both crude and vulgar.) In the meantime, they know that Daddy says dammit but that they are not supposed to. I can live with that.

Posted by Robert at September 10, 2004 09:03 AM | TrackBack
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