Thursday, November 5, 2009

Driving while Cussing

One of the most memorable conversations of this week was at our dinner table Tuesday night. Husband was discussing work, and my response to one of his comments was, "Too bad people feel the need to b-i-t-c-h about everything, huh?" Our six-year-old just sighed and shook her head and said, "Mom, b-i-c-h is NOT a good word."

And then she added, "You know what else is not a good word? F-r-i-c-k-i-n."

Yes, we've already covered those terms. The former goes back to a moment a few months ago when we were in the car and some broad in a Chevy almost hit us and then ALSO flipped me off. At least I had the foresight to spell the word to describe that driver. I had to restrain myself on Tuesday from explaining to our daughter that the verb form of "bich" is not nearly as bad as the noun form. Right? And, of course, frickin' is better than its alternative.

But really, I should just stifle myself and let the kind people hired to teach our daughter do their good work, since our daughter is receiving an excellent, well-rounded education.

We love our daughter's school. It's the elementary school of our youth, with neighborhood kids walking to campus daily, alumni from the 40s, 50s, and 60s still showing up for meetings and to support its current programs, and some of its very own teachers living only blocks away. It's a traditional school; the only 'bell and whistle' it boasts among competing language immersion, arts and science magnet, and museum and co-op schools is the International Baccalaureate Program.

The IB Program at the elementary-school level is primarily a qualitative approach to education, community, and self, promoting global awareness and reflective learning. International Baccalaureate tenets have become more evident in her first-grade homework, with our daughter being asked to write thoughts about classroom and community values such as respect.

For last week's homework, she had to reflect on what her world would be like without rules. We read the prompt, and she thought about it for a while. And then, exhibiting few libertarian tendencies and like the appropriately good six-year-old citizen she is, she wrote,

"If there was no rules everyone would do the wrong things. People would smoke and crash there cars."

And then she drew some blissfully happy people, living the lawless life:

Again, I am tempted to explain to my daughter that smoking isn't actually against the law; it's just against the law to do almost everywhere. Then we could have a discussion about how smoking is bad for you, and yes, honey, there are things that are bad for you that are not against the law, and things that are not bad for you that are against the law, and things that are bad for you that are against the riding in the car with your seat belt unfastened. In fact, could you please fasten your seat belt before I get arrested? Thank you.

It's so interesting to me that elementary-school-aged children readily correlate "doing bad things" with smoking. It's like the gateway crime. I remember back in the 80s when I was a teenager and out with my mom and my little brother, who spotted a smoker ahead on the sidewalk and stopped us all in our tracks with pointed finger and stage whispered shock: "OH MY GOSH! There's a SMOKER!" Math and grammar skills might not stick, but anti-drug education DOES.

In the early grades, anyway.

The extent to which smokers have been vilified as a result of more and more stringent laws restricting their activity (while tobacco companies continue to turn profits) has actually made me pity them on occasion. I can feel the shame emanating from the gentleman lurking in the gap between attractions at Sea World, trying to sneak a quick puff. Meanwhile, alcoholic Uncle Bill is welcome to his fourth beer over at the Anheuser-Busch Beer Pavilion.

Nevertheless, I have to wonder why driving while texting is illegal and driving while smoking is not. After all, driving behind smokers subjects me and my passengers to second-hand smoke. AND, the last two drivers whose crazy maneuvers had me shaking my head (who makes u-turns in the middle of a four-way stop?) both had cigarettes in hand. I had to hang up the phone and slam on my brakes.

The truth is, daughter, laws or no laws, the frickin' b-i-c-h-es are going to keep smoking and crashing there[sic] cars. And smiling. It's just human nature.

In the meantime, dagnabbit, there's a new rule in our house: No more bad words, not even s-p-e-l-l-e-d out.

1 comment:

Mama Deb said...

Brooks has been saying (probably too frequently), 'Put down your freaking computer, Mom!'

Trust me...'freaking' is a very big step for me. I am not sure I am able to go completely f-word-free!