The F-Word Diet
by Meredith Gordon
They say it all slows down once you have a baby. You might do it once or twice, but not that often. And hopefully, you never get caught by your kid and have that awkward moment when you have to explain what Mommy and Daddy are doing.
For my husband and me, the opposite happened after the birth of our son. We didn’t slow down at all. In fact, we’re at it a few times a day, sometimes even in front of the baby. We can’t help ourselves. We just can’t stop saying the word FUCK.
Curse words may not be polite and certainly should be used sparingly but oh, how good it feels to belt one out. Your car gets hit, you scream, “FUUUUUCK” and magically you feel better. A friend tells you she caught her guy cheating, you offer an empathetic, “FUCKKKKK.” Your boss passes you over for a promotion. You think, “what an asshole,” but it feels even better to call him, “A FUCKING Asshole.” Fuck is to language what garlic is to pasta. It adds flavor and spice and makes life a whole lot more fun.
Except when you’re a parent.
I have about ten thousand new parent books. They cover the gamut of subjects related to child rearing. Sleep books tell you that if your kid doesn’t sleep, he’ll likely become a serial killer. Nutrition books suggest that if you’re not giving your kid completely organic food, he’ll be unable to get past the third grade. And discipline books say if you haven’t taught your kid the word “gentle” by the time he’s three hours old, there’s a good chance your kid will be taking the short bus from school directly to “juvi.”
I’m now reading a book about how to increase your baby’s intelligence, which states that babies can understand language long before they can verbally respond. If you were to spend time with my husband Justin, you’d know that this presents a problem; a big fucking problem to be exact.
You see, the word FUCK is an important part of Justin’s vernacular. When he’s angry, he channels his inner Larry David and proudly exclaims, “Go Fuck Yourself Larry.” A martini might be described as, “so fucking good.” And a bad day on the stock market might be explained with, “we’re fucked.” For him fuck is an ever-present friend whom he relies on to add color and express his truest emotions.
But we’re parents now. He’s got to clean up his act. He’s got to change his ways. It’s time for him to go on the Fuck Diet.
I present the idea to him one evening after the baby goes to bed. “So I was thinking … ” I begin. Immediately he knows bad news is coming. Good things never follow, “I was thinking.” In this case I tell him, “you should stop saying fuck.”
His reaction is classic addict:
First, he denies the problem. “I don’t need any fucking diet. Verbal or otherwise,” he says.
Stage 2: Anger. “Fuck you for thinking I’ve got some sort of problem.”
And then finally, the apology. “Babe,” he says. “I’m so sorry. I’ll never say it front of the baby again. Whatever you want me to do, I’ll fucking do it.”
And then he pauses, replays the conversation in his head, and realizes that yes, he might be a fuckaholic. And so I tell him that he should go on a fuck binge tonight, because tomorrow, it’s cold turkey.
The next day he’s armed, he’s ready, he’s determined to be curse free. He’s even got a thesaurus downloaded to his Blackberry should he be jonesing for a fuck and need a stand in. It’s all going so well. He’s made it past a fender bender in the morning, bad directions on the way to a meeting, and a leaky roof discovered that afternoon.
As the day comes to close I tell Justin how proud I am of him. But then, the phone rings. It’s family; his family. A pushy bunch who thinks opinions and criticism are meant to be given not asked for. I suggest he let the call go to voice mail, knowing he might be vulnerable, but Justin assures me he can handle speaking to someone he’s related to without cursing. I’m suspect but encouraging.
Justin silently listens while his Mother speaks. He says a few things, then hangs up the phone. His face is flush and clammy. “For my Dad’s birthday, he wants to take the whole family away. He’s renting a house in the mountains. Two weeks” he says matter of factly. He waits for my response.
I ask for clarification, just to make sure I’ve heard correctly, “Two weeks with your parents?” He nods.
“Well then we’re fucked” I tell him. He pauses. Smiles. And then replies, “No, we’re not … we’re totally fucked.”
And then a light bulb goes off in my head. No matter how hard we try as parents we’ll never be perfect. We can only try our best to be good role models for our children. So if my son gets his sleep, eats healthy, plays gentle, and cursing is the worst thing he learns from us, I can live with that. And if our son’s first words at his pre-school interview are, “Mommy, I’m fucked” then at least he’ll be in good fucking company.