When I was pregnant, I thought nine months would be plenty of time to clean up my language. I’ve always been a procrastinator, though. Five years and two children later, I still hadn’t gotten around to kicking the habit when one evening over dinner, our eldest suggested we have a “manners contest.” My heart swelled with pride.
“What are the rules of the contest?” I asked.
She looked at me, deadpan. “No elbows on the table. And no talking with your mouth full.”
I shot my husband a how-cute-is-our-kid look just as she added one last rule.
“Also, no saying ‘Goddamnit, this food is fucking gross.’”
I can’t see myself kicking my cursing habit for good. But I also can’t see myself not dying of shame were my child to bust out her unsavory vocabulary at the wrong time. To be clear, I think she’s well aware of the difference between the right time and the wrong time. I also think the universe gave the child I am supposed to have, which means I am pretty confident I’m always about an inch away from the dying-of-shame scenario.
So, if like me, you’re looking for some G-rated exclamations to replace the R-rated ones you’re used to, here are some fresh ideas you can use in your daily life. (Bonus: most came highly recommended from actual parents.)
When: It's 8 p.m. on a Sunday night and your kid asks you to take him to buy all the supplies for the science project that is due tomorrow.
I swear to John
Are you effingham kidding me?
Son of a motherless goat
When: You come back to bed after nursing the baby for the third time to find your partner right where you left him, sleeping soundly, despite your rabid, passive aggressive pillow fluffing.
Are you cussing kidding me
When: You step on a Lego in your unshod foot (again).
Cheese and crackers
God bless America
Son of a monkey’s uncle
When: You drop a hot casserole dish as you're taking it out of the oven, creating an actual hot mess of cheese and glass on your kitchen floor and now there is nothing for dinner.
Cheese and rice
When: Your kid dumps all 32 ounces of your expensive shampoo into the tub because she "felt like a bubble bath."
God love ya
Sugar honey iced tea
When: Another parent cuts you off in the school pick up line, then sits in her car texting after her kids get out like there isn't a line of 100 cars waiting behind her.
I now know there are steps I can take to change how I think, to find the true me again. That is why I am going to take better care of myself this year. In fact, that’s the only resolution I care to make. For both my own health, and as an important example to my kids, this year, I'm resolving to practice a kindness that starts from within.