My husband and I swear a lot. And we haven’t always been good about filtering ourselves when around children, my parents (uh, sorry), or civilized society in general. Not wanting our son’s first words to be rated PG-13, we recently instituted a swear jar.
To our pleasant surprise, it worked. We put a ton of money into it the first week, of course, but the amount tapered off over the next two weeks. That’s pretty consistent with all the articles I see every January, telling me it only takes three weeks to develop a new habit. There have been two unexpected side-effects from this experiment, though, in kind of opposite directions from each other:
- We notice swearing much more if we’re out and about with our son. The words just really leap out of the background noise, and sometimes I see what people mean by the demise of civility!
- We still swear a lot when we’re not around S. The other day I crashed into a chair at work, and while it didn’t particularly hurt, I was annoyed, and letting out a hearty, “Mother McFucker!” was really satisfying.
There’s definitely a bit of cognitive dissonance there, but a well-placed swear can be as satisfying as a good cry. Poor E nearly had a coronary from trying to watch Game 7 of the NBA Finals last night without swearing in front of S. And then this MORNING, oh my god, WHAT THE FUCK, WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT GOAL DIDN’T COUNT?!?!?
Ahem. Clearly we still have a ways to go. But hey, the swear jar goes into the college fund, so everybody wins! (Except for the U.S. in the World Cup, apparently. Argh! Now I’m worried about Algeria. Algeria!)