The crux of language: it’s only effective when it’s intentional
If you encounter me in a non-professional situation away from little human ears, you will likely hear a plethora of words… bad, filthy dirty, cuss words.
In fact, they’re my favorite. Fuck is my absolute favorite! I’ve never discovered another word that could so accurately describe such a broad range of emotions. It’s appropriate when I’m happy, sad, excited, angry, it adequately describes high levels of pain and ecstatic levels of pleasure, and it is also a very descriptive verb! Catch me without my kid and you’re likely to experience a very colorful exclamation of my truest emotions.
I’ve never bought into the whole “bad” words premise. They’re just words. How can they be bad? Sure, there are appropriate and inappropriate times to use them. In fact, my daughter turned 5 in November and she has never heard a “bad” word from myself or my husband. Is this because we think they’re bad? Fuck no! It’s because we don’t think she is old enough to understand when to appropriately use them, so we’ve intentionally evaded usage around her until she is old enough to understand. In fact, she’s only ever said two “bad” words, and that’s because she asked what they meant when she heard them in the media. Steve Harvey dropped the “d word” on Family Feud one night, and Grandma told Aubrey one of her favorite songs had a bad word in it—which of course mommy had to decipher and explain—it was “hell.” So of course, we discussed what they mean, why they’re used, and why she shouldn’t use them until she is able to ensure that she won’t pop one out in front of her classmates.
One of my favorite books, Slammed, by Colleen Hoover, addresses the whole bad word thing. One little girl in the book got in trouble for using bad language, so she started substituting the word butterfly or butterflying for cuss words. It’s brilliant! Her sentences sound ridiculous, but she totally gets her point across! I can tell you’re much more excited if you say you’re “butterflying” excited, rather than just simply saying you’re excited. Which sounds exciting?! Hoover has a great point. It is actually the context of the word that makes it bad, but why does butterflying have to be any different than damn? It’s only different because people have added that connotation to it.
I can still remember being afraid of these words when I was little. I was fascinated with them, and I used them away from my parents, but the rules were very clear—I was not to use them. I even recall printing a poem with damn on it from my mom’s printer and forgetting about it—I was terrified when she came home and questioned me about it.
Now that I’m an adult, I can use them whenever I want. And I LOVE THEM so I use them a lot!
But the great thing about my bright vocabulary is its intentionality.
Words have power—great power. You all know the age-old poem, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, and you all know how fucking untrue it is. Words hurt! Words encourage. Words boast. Words empower. Words explain. Words exclude. Words are incredibly fucking powerful. Your words have the most power when you truly mean them, when you’ve thoughtfully and excruciatingly prepared them, when they’re accurate and appropriate for the situation. I usually like to write out my thoughts and feelings, one of the reasons why I blog, rather than having verbal conversations because I don’t like being thrown off base by my own emotions. If I can thoroughly consider my reply, I can adequately explain my position. I’ve never been good at quick recall and verbal debate—I much prefer to intentionally arrange my thoughts before presenting them. If you talk to me on facebook messenger, I might even drive you crazy, because I type…delete…type…delete…type…delete and those damn elipses appear and disappear, and I edit a billion times before hitting submit. You can be sure that 99% of the time, my thoughts are accurate and honest. Even after I post my blogs, I read them about 8-10 more times, just to check for typos and clarity (and to make myself feel better because I have more views…ha!). Words are powerful! I don’t throw them around willy-nilly, because that would take the power away from them. That would take the power away from me.
The majority of my words are intentional, unless I am inebriated or I (rarely) let my emotions take control. I have never cussed in front of a kid (that was old enough to repeat me), and I pride myself on that. I have a filthy mouth, but put me in a room with your two year old and I could sell Orbit without a guilty conscience. Intentionality spares unwanted repetition by kids, but it also empowers your words. Be powerful. Be intentional. And damnit, use some colorful words sometime. They’re fucking great! (See, wouldn’t Tony the Tiger sound even better if he expanded his catchprase?!)
I fucking love you all. 😉 Until next time.