August 28, 2011

Because I have to know ...

When I was a child, words like barf and fart were not within my scope of language. (I can't believe I wrote those. I typed them. Here.)

When I was a child, I met such words with a pursed-lip revulsion because I existed within a very narrow world. Indeed and completely without pride I confess I was a holier-than-everyone kind of a gal. For years. What can I say? I'm working on it.

I wonder if my very proper German-Canadian grandmother, who expected us to declare after dinner we were "sufficiently suffonsified", was at the root of my stuffiness. Wouldn't it have been a bit clearer and easier, at 6, to state "I'm full" or, quelle horreur, "Oosh, am I stuffed". (Thanks Nana, RIP, I have impressed many a word nerd with that near perfect specimen of a word).

Personally, I like to blame all things quirky on the dearth of extended family in my youth. No blacksheep aunts and uncles to make our holiday dinners interesting, actually no aunts and uncles at all. So no rougher cousins to teach us nasty things while huddled in the basement under shelves that groaned with preserves. Nothing to be learned but not to be repeated in front of the oldsters. Maybe that, that was it.

But what I do know for certain is that, as I work diligently toward shedding that image I always had of myself as both better and way, way less likeable and capable as everyone else (I know, right?!) and as I strive to provide my children with a more level-headed entree into the world, I find that what I really want is to get over that pursed-lip girl I was, so many moons ago.

And so. Without further ado. I ask you all:

Barf, ralph, puke, vomit, chuck or even upchuck? We exclusively said "throw up". Later I added purge.

Ginch or gaunch? Knickers, tighty (gag) whiteys? I missed this debate entirely. Underwear, and probably undies.

Fart? We never did that at Casa Cox. We absolutely and pathologically held 'em in. Tightly. We said (insert Erkel voice here): "who had gas?" and wrinkle our noses.

Now I teach my kids toot and fluff, which are both totally lame-ass, I know, but also cute. I mean I kinda want fart to be an inappropriate word they "wouldn't" say in front of their mother, the one for which I can practice my lying disapproving face and a smirk.

Even snot could earn us a smack or a glare. We never called those green things boogers or my personal favourite, booger nuggets. Honestly, I guess we just said we had a runny nose. (Yawn).

Is it any wonder I spent most of my childhood trying to fit in, and all of my adult life figuring out how, how, how to get that stick out of my ass?

So I want all the best words from your past. And the ones you are teaching your kids. Do you care if they know with whom it is appropriate to use these words, or are they simply a part of their everyday vocabulary?

Please. Because I have a psychotic urge loosen my kids up (they're horrified by orange cheese, people), but what is too loose? My children's futures are in your hands. Give me all you've got, the good, the bad, the crass and the ugly. Seriously. I'm desperate.


  1. Ok, I'm going to give it to you quick. In my childhood home, I'd have NEVER said fart or boob or booger. Because we all pretended that we didn't have bodies.

    In my home now? We call gas root-toot-tooting. Because it's funny. But not necessarily offensive. Boogers are called boogers, sadly. Vaginas are vaginas. Penises are penises. Butts are bottoms. We have a game where we try to think up creative names for vomiting (whistle beef, toss your cookies, blow chunks, etc), but the kids know they should call it vomiting if they talk to someone else about it. They poop and go pee pee. For some reason it really bothers me if they say, "I have to pee." I'm like, "Jesus, how old are you?" I like pee pee.

    I guess my main goal is that they grow up feeling comfortable with their bodies and the processes involved, but that they understand that potty talk is kind of gross. I imagine we'll revisit this issue when the boy gets older. Boys love junk like that.

  2. Ooooh. Whistle beef. I did hear blowing chunks once or twice, pretty sure it was at the end of a party, or the recap the next day.

    Um, and I'm wondering. Do you think they sound older if they say I have to pee, or younger? I'm assuming older, but I've been screwed majorly on an assumption recently (someone paid me $20 / day for providing childcare for 8 hrs / day because I trusted they would play fair and I totally suck at naming my price. Doh!)

  3. This post is frakkin AWESOME, When I was a kid we said all the words here and many that were much worse, but none actually out loud in front of adults. Where I grew up, we didn't talk about our bodies. In fact, we hid them under Tshirts over our swimsuits in the pool. I couldn't imagine something worse than having my bra strap snapped or a boy knowing that I had my period.
    My kid will not be raised in fear or shame. We will be talking about ALL of it, no matter how much I'll be dying on the inside. We say penis and vagina. NOT vulva, for sweet lady internets sake. Although one day we probs will break down all the other bits too.
    We say poop and pee. Dad farts, the kid toots. Because it's freaking adorable.
    And dude, I am also horrified by orange cheese if we're talking about the processed varieties. Ya gotta have standards.

  4. That orange cheese revulsion is a problem, though, because they say it LOUD to their GRAMA who proceeds to be PISSY with their MUTHER. And to other adults who, through not that much fault of mine, feel judged all the time, no matter how much I try to back pedal. Yeesh!

    We have this terrific picture book, my kids love it, called Body Science. I think I should review it one of these days soon. It really taught me something about immaturity and dealing with these subjects. I chose to grow up a bit, the moment I read it. I stopped calling our lady-bits our hoohah right then and their. I have relented for fun since. As I sed. I really need to lighten up a bit.

  5. I need to read suggestions too, because I grew up with the same stunted vocabulary you did.

    My husband has all sorts of strange and fun words for fart (really - it was hard for me to type that word here) and every other bodily function. But as of yet, I haven't brought myself to say them.

  6. Oh, Tracie, isn't that funny? I can't stand typing that word too, and reading "Walter the Fluffing* Dog" to my kids near killed me too.

    * The way I had to read it. It was in a CLASSROOM!!!