I recently attended a soccer game with my extended family. We were 25 people, lots of kids. The game was tied 1-1. I stood next to my two cousins, ages 10 and 8. They were standing on the seats so they were at my height. Two boys, both trying to look cool in front of the other.
The other team scores and our side is down a goal. The crowd is stunned. The 8 year old turns to the 10 year old and says “I hate the guy who scored so much, I’m gonna punch him in the fucking head.”
Punch him in the fucking head. Think about that, punching someone in the head. Wham! A punch straight to the brain space. Major damage. An eight year old said this! I know kids swear all the time. They’ll say words like shit or boobs and then giggle and turn red. They might even say fuck but when they do it’s a novelty, they know they’re doing something wrong. They don’t use it in a sentence with the familiarity of a truck driver. And they certainly don’t say they’re going to punch a total stranger in the head. That’s something a guy who just got out of prison says when he learns about his ex-wife’s new boyfriend.
I was the only adult who heard this bit of bravado so now I had to do something about it, which…ugh. I hate disciplining my little cousins; I never think my reprimand will be in line with what their parents would do. Parents get mad when their kids swear. Don’t say that! That’s a terrible thing to say. Really? You said it like two minutes ago when you had trouble uncorking the wine. I had no real problem with my cousin saying fuck - I mean he shouldn’t do it often because people will think he’s a dick. But a restrained use of the word fuck is good for the soul. It feels good to get out there, something satisfying about saying something people always told you was wrong. I use fuck all the time and I guess we shouldn’t deny its existence. But I did have a problem with this kid, who’s got an awesome and peace filled life, resort to violence so quickly. No one gets mildly disappointed at a sporting event they neither understand or care about and say, “I’ll punch you in the fucking head!!!”
He doesn’t get it from his parents so I guess he just wanted to look cool. I turned to him and said “Whoa just relax. It’s just a soccer game. Don’t you think a punch to the head is a little much?”
The 8 year old turned red and smiled. He got caught trying to be cool in front of his older cousin. His older cousin who then immediately sold him out by saying “Did you hear? he said the F word.” Like he wanted to distance himself from misbehaviour immediately. but he caught the wrong adult. Not only do I not care he said fuck, I was disappointed in the 10 year old for selling out his cousin. Stick together! Lie! that’s what we did when we were 10.
I was annoyed because both me and the 8 year old were trying to avoid the subject of the word fuck. All I could muster was a half-hearted, “Yeah don’t say that either,” and then I turned and watched the game again.
How can I tell this kid not to say fuck when I say it at least 5 times a day? I know that you can’t have 8 year olds walking around in public saying fuck fuck fuck. It’s impolite, it’s offensive if you’re a prude, and it’s just weird to hear a word with such power and aggression come from such a small person. You know, this kid still asks permission to drink apple juice; it doesn’t make sense that he’s saying fuck.
I say fuck because i’m out of ideas. It’s my go to word. My gin and tonic, Paul to the Corinthians, old faithful. Why think of other adjectives or verbs when you’ve got fuck.