No Potty-Mouth Here. My Lips Would Fall Off.

When I was a kid I wasn't allowed to say "shut up." Also forbidden were, "you're stupid," "fart," "crap," and "butt." The result was that I came up with all kinds of euphemisms for these words. "Shut up" became "hush up," "zzzipit" "be quiet," and "lalalala I'm not listening." "Stupid" became "dumb-head" and "idiot." "Fart" transformed itself into "toot" and "boof." "Crap" changed to "bull-honky." And the piéce de résistance: "butt" became: "rear," "rear-end," "backside," "back of my front," "hind-quarters," "posterior," "buttox," "buttoxis," and "rumpus," with the occasional "RUMP-elstiltskin" thrown in.

As I look at that list, I can see that whatever my parents hoped to accomplish by forbidding the use of certain words, was pretty much not accomplished. I'm pretty sure that in spirit "toot" means "fart," and "hush-up" means "shut-up." By forbidding me to say these things, all my parents did was start the engine of my creativity in finding new and more adventurous ways to say the words they didn't want me to say. In short, I went out and did the exact opposite of what they asked me to do, like a good little kid. I just disguised it.

Now, understand: I don't believe in using foul language. I'm serious when I say my lips would fall off–and in no small way is it due to my parent's abhorrence of "bad words." I was taught that there are better words to use than swear words. And I have to say that even on my own, I found so many more wonderful, descriptive words to use than the more common curse words, that I tended to prefer them to describe how I was feeling at any given moment. Besides, I thought "rumpus" sounded hilarious and liked it much better than "butt"–which made me think of the end of a cigarette. (Yes, yes, I KNOW "butt" is not a swear word. But I still think of it that way.)

I guess my point is that while teaching kids good manners is critical (in my opinion), and showing them that as human beings we can rise above the common into the unique and wonderful without using words that sound harsh to some ears–or are used so commonly that there is nothing ennobling in them–we should not go too far the other direction either. Kids are pretty smart, and I think they generally want to be good. It's when we panic and push them too hard that they start reacting and finding ways to do the things we don't want them to do–even things they KNOW would be best for them not to do.

So, my plan is to chillax. Allow my kids to say "fart" if they want to. Then I'll spend the rest of my time being a good example. Choosing genteel words and lovely descriptions so they'll see how to do it. Not swearing when I'm upset. Not yelling when I'm frustrated. Going to my happy place so I show my children it CAN be done. And my blog will be a No Potty-Mouth Zone too. I value my lips.

This does mean I'll  have to stop saying "fart" though.


At least I know I'll be able to get into BYU, if I want to.

About Janiel 433 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. Oh the memories! I remember all those “forbidden” words, so many restrictions. Shoot, darn, geez, golly, gosh darned, dang. Oh so many more I can’t think of, and all the substitutions. I also remember “potty” being a really bad word as well, along with normal body function words most people use (see, I still don’t like saying or typing them… a few “p” words) I remember almost having a heart attack when our father once said “crap” when working on the car in Germany. Of course, my rebellion went much further than yours following my mission and studying language. I speak “French” very well now, but also am aware of other people’s discomfort with certain language. But I did find it interesting that curse words in other languages are based around their ideas of what’s bad. For example, “God” in our world was bad, but in Austria, “Gruss Gott” (Greet God) is a common everyday salutation, but we missionaries were forbidden to say it. Austrians also say “Maria!” when something goes wrong, or the shortened “Ma.” Americans wouldn’t find anything wrong with “Maria.” In one town in Austria to say “Kerl” (guy) was just fine, in another they considered it offensive. Needless to say, my sensibilities were confused, and then I realized they were just words we attach meanings and visuals to and choose what we want to be “offensive.”

    At any rate, all that said, I am the “pull my finger” uncle for Janiel’s kids (which I am sure she is to this day still thanking me for), and I have changed my view of my parents’ ideas of life, but learned to respect how others want to live their lives, and I hope they respect mine. Curse words are just expressions of emotion to me, but they do have an impact on others.

    p.s. Another interesting phenomena is what is “bleeped” on tv today. Bleeped words of the past are now fine, and some really odd new words are being bleeped which is totally hilarious that they are now “bad.”

  2. Great comment, Lynn! And thanks for being the “Pull My Finger” uncle. Now my children’s lives are complete. 🙂

    Speaking of “bleeped” words on tv, we were watching an old Michael J. Fox movie, and a certain phrase was voiced-over to become: “slug-in-a-ditch!”

    BWAAAAA hahahahaha!

  3. Oh … you are one funny lady … what a gift … you definitely were born to write!!! You make me LOL every time by capturing reality in such a hilarious light!!!

    My list growing up was much like yours and I still can’t use those words without feeling like someone is going to punish me. My real rebellion came when I was eight years old and very angry at my older brother. I told him to go “poop up a tree”. I’m not quite sure WHY I used that particular phrase … it made no sense?? But it sounded really BAD to me and I was really MAD. Immediately after I said it I was suuuuuuuuuure I was doomed for eternity!!! My brother on the other hand, being sixteen, thought it was hilarious! Of course he told my Mother, and I was grounded.

  4. Hahahahahaha! That IS hilarious. “Poop up a tree” is an original. One which I shall have to employ in writing. Somewhere. Do you want an attribution? “Poop up a Tree,” brought to you by Gwen Burton . . .

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