truth telling and the swear jar…
February 20, 2011
The swear jar found its way to our shelf this week. It is not for my children, it’s for me. I love to swear, I really do. Never at my children or to them, mostly my friends and Jorge. Anytime there is a reason to exaggerate anything, to be funny, to be shocking, it just feels these are the only appropriate words for such situations. It isn’t something I hide from my children exactly, I know, it’s awful on so many levels.
I was talking to a friend on the phone this week about her life, her terrible boss, it was sympathy swearing. After I hung up, I saw Josiah sitting on the bench looking low. I asked him if he was okay, he nodded and off we went to pick up the girls from preschool. As we pulled away from the car pool line, he said,
“Mom, can we talk about something?” (his lower lip starting to quiver).
“Yeah, what is it?” I replied.
“Remember before?….” He burst into tears. “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, or make you feel bad, I really don’t, but it just bothers me when you… when you swear.”
It was obvious he had been holding it, for much longer than this moment. You could feel the courage it took to tell someone you love that something about them is, well, wrong and not good for you or them. And then I had a strange reaction, I was slightly annoyed, felt terrible and very proud, all at the same time.
“Yes, I hear you. Wow, that was very brave of you, to tell me that, I’m really proud. ” I said.
He nodded his head. “It took me all morning to gather up my courage.” he said, his eyes full of tears. And I venture to guess it wasn’t because he thought I would be mad as much as he didn’t want to hurt me.
“I’m so glad you did. But I have a question? Does it bother you because it makes you uncomfortable or does it just feel wrong?” I inquired.
“The wrong one.” he said.
“Okay, yes, it is wrong. I never want to make you feel bad either. I will stop but I must tell you, it’s gonna be hard.” I admitted.
“I know.” he said. And he does know.
“The thing is Josiah, when I was a kid and an adult, I tried so hard all the time to do everything right, and NEVER do anything wrong to feel okay and for people and grownups to like me, to love me even, and because I thought it made me a good person. But then I had to discover that maybe I was a good person even if I didn’t always do the “right” thing all the time. You know what? Swearing was my first try to not be so perfect, to make me feel human and I found out I could be loved and good. But I think I got that lesson down now and it just stuck, so maybe I don’t need to do it anymore. Thank you for helping me to realize it might be hurting people I love and I certainly don’t want that. I love you.”
“It’s okay mom. I understand.” he said with a half smile.
“I’m so proud of you, man that was big. We probably needed it, to tell each other how we feel because we’re headed to all this teenager stuff and were gonna need to do that a lot to help each other, huh?”
“Yeah, I think we can do it.” he said.
“Me too, me too.” and I sighed.
There is nothing like having your
ass butt handed to you about the poor, ridiculous behavior that you kinda love. It’s so good/hard when your kid requires you to be a better person than you are ready/want to be at the moment. You discover that your sailor swearing self can somehow still be a good parent, with the occasional quarter in the jar and all.