I do not drive "the bookmobile" or "the batmobile" or "the Popemobile." But I am the some what embarrassed driver of a vehicle which can only be conservatively called "the badwordmobile." My embarrassment really only lasted about a half second, so I must share the results of my experiment. I may also be required to categorize this post under "Bad Mommy Part III."
I would totally be excommunicated from the Catholic church, were I a member, for my evil parental transgressions over the weekend. How now brown cow, you say? Well it started with a drive home after a long day of exploring over the weekend.
Let's just say I had three boys (my son and two of his cousins) stuck in my truck on the way home after a long, long, long day. We had a drive of a little over an hour to endure getting back to our housing compound.
By some law of the universe, the three boys ages 8, 7, and 5, could find nothing more entertaining then to say naughty words to each other under their stinky little breath. I still can not comprehend their excessive fascination, bordering on a compulsive disorder, with BAD WORDS. But it is what it is.
As I was driving I kept hearing whispers from the back seat, "Ass. . . ass head. . . butt wipe. . .butt funk . . . " and so on.
I briefly pondered pulling over and beating the crap out of the boys. Then I decided there'd be too many witnesses along Highway 101. Time for other strategies.
And reverse psychology, having some kind of effect on kids, was to find it's role in the parents guide to the universe once again.
"You know boys, I CAN hear you," I told them when the next round of filth emptied like a quietly sneaking black fog from their mouths.
Silence. Then uncontrollable giggling.
I continued,"We don't talk like that. You KNOW that already though don't you boys."
A staggered chorus of "We know... OK." was heard from the backseat. Then another fit of giggles erupted.
"Well, maybe today we can do something different," I speculated out loud.
I went on, "What if you write all the bad words you want on paper instead of saying them? I don't want to hear them, but you can write all the naughty words you want. I repeat, the rules are you must NOT say them. AND you can't tell anyone about this. We're gonna call it the badwordmobile. OK? This will be our secret. Right."
Secrets and bad words are things which kids like, so I was betting the clandestine nature of this operation and being told to use the words they aren't supposed to would do the trick. Maybe this would satisfy their need to explore vocabulary while simultaneously keeping them from verbalizing those things that they should not. Maybe this was pure parenting genius. Maybe NOT.
Pandemonium with whoops and hollers broke out intermixed with, "Yeah!! Yeah! Okay! and Really? The three boys were laughing and sputtering with excitement like Bevis and Butthead at their worst. They were chortling and chirping like a pack of dirty starlings.
After a scramble for scratch paper and pens, the boys were totally absorbed with their new directive and silence in the truck ensued. Those three boys set to work to write their worst.
I could see my son Wyatt carefully writing, "Luke is an ass." Then he stopped to ask, "How do you spell 'balls'?"
Bwahhaahaaaa. Laughter of the most uncontrollable kind broke loose for five minutes.
Then Trevor piped in hissing with glee, "I'm gonna write 'Butt lick'."
"Hey!! I said you CAN'T say the words boys!!! What about our rules?" I hollered at them.
The furious writing by unsteady hands using pink felt tip markers on the back side of scratch paper was palpable. Concentration of this magnitude in boys is not often observed.
A rustle, a squeak, a sigh . . .
Then paper airplanes laden with profanity took flight across the back seat of my truck. As each recipient claimed his specially addressed airplane, raucous laughter echoed through the vehicle. Each boy read the naughty note written just for him. I think it was truly unmitigated joy.
What did I do?
So this pattern went on for the half of the trip home. Writing bad words, folding paper airplanes, reading, cackling laughter. But the bad word verbal banter was gone.
As we approached the exit to our town I said, "Okay boys. That's it. The badword mobile is over. Now what are the rules?"
"Don't tell anyone about the badword mobile," one of the boys volunteered.
"We can only write down the words on paper and not say them," another piped up.
I nodded my head and said, "Good! Excellent! Now there is just one more thing. Every scrap of paper must be thrown in the trash as soon as we get home."
And when we got home a few minutes later the boys cleaned out the truck of the foul debris.
Now let's see how long the foul words are absent from their tongues. . .