I've written hundreds of words over the years of my affinity for profanity. I'm not saying it's my finest attribute, but there are times when in lieu of saying, "Gosh darn it all to heck fire!" I use one word that totally encapsulates the way I feel in that moment. Journalists call that an "economy of words."' Christians call it "cussing" and I call it "therapy."
The immediate satisfaction of letting the four letter words fly is soothing although not great parenting. So I've made every effort over the years to cut back on my expletives. I realize it's not my most attractive or endearing character trait and I certainly don't want to pass my habit onto my children.
That said, my oldest daughter, Aubrey, has been my little Jiminy Cricket. Even for bad words that I've made up, "Fishbones! Fishsticks! Good gravy! Freaking!"
"Momma," she'll say disapproving pointed the tip of her index finger at me, the one with the gnawed off fingernail, "That's not a nice word."
"I'm sorry Aubrey. You're right. I need to say nicer words." I apologize. I think it's good for my kids to know that I'm not perfect and if I can use my bad behavior to teach them how to admit when they are wrong and apologize to others, then I'll take every teaching moment that comes along.
The other evening I got an e-mail related to my writing that filled me with rage. I didn't want to respond to the e-mail in anger, so I called one of my best friends - Kim Brock, author of "The River Witch" and a Southern Christian lady who wouldn't be offended by the slew of profanities I was about to unleash. I walked onto the balcony of the condo where we are vacationing, closed the door and unleashed my frustrations. Somehow in the midst of my hysterical outburst I didn't hear the door slide open and close or see Aubrey slip silently behind me.
I spun around in my chair when I felt her presence and waved her inside.I told Kim I'd been busted and needed to go get my kids back in the bed. I walked into Aubrey's room and climbed on the bed with her. We snuggled up, then nose-to-nose I asked her, "Did you hear Momma say some bad words?"
"I'm sorry honey. I really shouldn't talk like that. It's not nice. Don't you ever say words like that, you would get in so much trouble. I wasn't being a very good example and I'm sorry."
"It's okay, Momma. I forgive you. Sometimes I get really mad and say things I don't mean too."
"Yeah," I agreed. "What did you hear me say?" I tensed up in fear and waited for to drop a bomb.
"The 'A' word." She said gravely.
I was genuinely embarrassed, "Sorry baby."
"Oh, it's okay Momma. At least it was a compound word."
(Robin O'Bryant is an author, humorist and speaker. Her latest novel is "Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves." Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and visit her blog at robinschicks.com.)