I remember swearing for the first time when I was in seventh grade. I said “hella,” felt utterly scandalized and then proceeded to hide the habit from my parents for the next decade. It was a secret I took pretty seriously — the only slip-up I recall happened when I was 16 and accused my mom of “treating me like crap.” (She wasn’t, I was just terrible.) I felt guilty about it for like three hours!!! That’s how boring I was as a teen. Crap is not even a swear word.
But as my siblings and I have gotten older, we’ve pretty much done a 180. The once disparate Venn diagram of who we are and who we are in front of mom and dad has slowly transitioned into a flat circle. Our mouths are filthy during annual family gatherings. There is almost no filter whatsoever. I imagine some find that kind of thing distasteful or disrespectful. But if I’m honest, my whole body feels cozy when my mom says shit. Somehow I think it makes us closer.
I know everyone doesn’t feel this way. Amelia said that she has sworn in front of her parents for as long as she can remember — that her mom actually swears more now because of her — but she hates swearing in general. Krista told me that she didn’t swear in front of her parents until college, that when she was growing up her dad called hell “a nasty four-letter word.” (Lol.) Harling said she’s not allowed to swear in front of her parents now and never has been. She said it was so ingrained in her at a young age that swearing was terrible that in seventh grade, when she heard her dad say fuck on a business call, she cried. I also cried when she told me that story because it’s hilarious.
Do you swear in front of your parents? Did you always?
Collage by Emily Zirimis.