Saturday, June 02, 2012

The "F" Word

Ahhhh...gotcha on this one!  Bettin' you are thinking I am going to write about "Family" or "Friends" or even "Fun".


It's the actual "F" word!  Let me explain...

Last night, after an evening spent visiting with my best buddy around a fire pit filled with charred, dropped marshmallows, we ended up with just our "oldies" at home.  Olesya, Angela and Matthew were left home while Josh and Kenny went to sleep over at their friend's house.  The door was barely closed when the kids all said "This feels WEIRD!" because it was too quite.  You see, Josh and Kenny play all day long...and they play Super Heroes, or Kings and Knights, or Cops and Robbers.  They are so imaginative and are always acting out some scene they have written in their minds right on the spot.  Josh will play this way by himself as well, happily replying when asked what he is doing "Mom, I am playing with my body!" and then off he goes to pretend smack down some villain with a TaeKwonDo kick to the head...hahaha!

Somehow, we have managed to keep our kids fairly innocent.  Don't be fooled though, for innocent is NOT naive.  We tend to have what some might consider odd boundaries around our home.  For example, you all know that sex has been explained multiple times and in many ways, body parts are named appropriately, and we don't hesitate to speak about them using the right terms.  It is not unheard of at all for me to say something like "I need to get my breasts out of the way when shooting archery...they might get hurt!" and hear a little laughter, or for the kids to say "Why can't parents just call it a 'penis' instead of a 'winkie'?" (they thought that was totally hilarious.).  What has the result been?  As was commented in the car by Kenny the other day after we talked about some sign we saw somewhere that was overly revealing of a woman's anatomy "Mom, I don't get it, why does everyone have to show everything all the time?  I mean, good grief, it's just breasts and penises.  Sometimes adults act like little kids about sex stuff."

Which was exactly the sort of attitude I had hoped to develop in our kids, one of natural acceptance of bodies, parts and functions...not the sort of typical teen obsessed and overly fascinated with all things S-E-X.  Our kids think bodies are beautiful and not so beautiful, that sex can be wonderful and amazing and yet also can be used to replace real love by those who yearn for what they don't have.  We actually have had several conversations about this, with examples ready all around us, sadly, of how people confuse love with sex.

However, after all this kind of openness, we do not allow them to watch scenes in movies or on TV, saying it is inappropriate to film something that is intimate like that, as it cheapens what is a precious thing.  In fact, I have had Angela and Olesya on more than one occasion come to me when watching something PG13 and say "We turned it mom, it ended up having some sex stuff in it."...because now days even PG13 can utterly surprise you.

We are the same with violence.  We do not tend to allow the kids to watch overly violent things or play them in video gratuitous violence is allowed, no "Grand Theft Auto".  Where do we draw the line?  Actually, in a place most would be surprised.  We do allow violence to be shown if it reflects real life such as  war movies (We just watched Saving Private Ryan), drug or alcoholic behavior, or genocide.  Why?  We are very intentional about wanting the kids to see the evil in the world and to understand A) What we hope to protect them from, B)  That there is nothing at all glamorous about war and we all should do what we can to promote peace, C)  Drugs and heavy alcohol use can lead to terrible, terrible things happening, D)  The evil in the world causes mankind to harden hearts and evil begets evil unless someone stands up and says " more", E)  Humans are capable of things we can't even imagine and we need to shield ourselves by not engaging in activity that can lead us to do the same.

In other words, violence for the sake of violence in our media is not something we allow, but violence for instructional purposes is.  It is very hard for a child to picture in their head what "genocide" is, but seeing a movie like "Hotel Rwanda" makes it perfectly clear.  Honestly, it is after viewing such things or showing photos of such things for school purposes that we have some of our most moving conversations, such as the one triggered by looking at the iconic photo of the 9 year old girl running from napalm during the Vietnam War.  That photo turned the tide in many ways, and it can turn hearts as well even today.  I want our kids hearts moved, not hardened, and sometimes nudging hearts means that at 4 years old, you don't hide the people scavenging out of trash cans when we took Matt when we adopted Josh...he now knew what real hunger truly meant.

So, while our kids might be homeschooled and some might assume they are more "sheltered" than others, they actually are not naive at all about most things.  Then there are the other things, that thankfully they ARE naive about, as was proven last night.

We are all sprawled on the couch, vegging and visiting as Dominick begins to snore softly with his head on Matt's shoulder, when Angela asks "Mom, what does the middle finger mean?  I heard about it and saw it in Kazakhstan, but I don't know what it means."  and Olesya chimes in "Yea, I don't know either.  What's so bad about it?".  Matthew starts to chuckle, waiting to see how I handle this one, for thanks to several kids in 3rd and 4th grade in his class he already knew vaguely what it meant...and that it wasn't any good.  Imagine his surprise when I boldly say "It is a symbol for the word F-CK, which means to have sex." and he laughed out loud at how matter-of-fact I was as the girls both squealed out "Ewwwww...!!!!" and Angela said "And THAT is what people are always running around saying?  That is stupid, and icky!"  I then proceeded to share with them the various ways in which people use it such as "F- Off", "F- You", "F-in' cool", etc.  Well, you get the drift.  And that led into another conversation about how casual people are about their language, and how it becomes habit for them without thinking to say certain things.

Now, I am not at all virtuous with my mouth, sad to say, and growing up in Southern California means that I heard waaaaayyyy more "F- You's" than I should have.  However, over time and with having children around 100% of my day, my language in front of them is generally very clean, with only the occasional word released when I stub a toe or some such event, and even then it is whispered under my breath if I can help it.  We talked about "Giving the bird" and "Flipping off" being terms people use for giving the middle finger, and we laughed over my sharing how in Southern California it is totally acceptable and typical for people to flip people off when driving if they get mad at someone.  They thought that was so stupid, and it is.

The funny thing is that now that our kids are removed from the cultural norm of pre-teen and teenage years in public education, I am realizing all the learning that goes on that is not necessarily good, but IS necessary to keep them from being naive.  While I don't want them surrounded by kids casually throwing out vulgar language (And really, what parent DOES want that?), I also don't want them moving into adulthood being clueless about the words they hear used, or being naive about the things that might go on behind closed doors.  They would not be able to function in our world well if they had no idea about such things!  So what does this mean for us?  Well, we have lessons of another kind, which might also surprise some folks.  We spent an hour recently in front of the white board as I wrote down all the various less-than-classy names for body parts that are used daily.  Yup, I wrote columns with titles like "Breasts", "Penis" and "Sex" and then underneath wrote all the terms I knew of for them and we talked about it, giggled about it, and explained them.  Then, of course, I threatened them with death should I hear those words coming out of their mouths, and I told them that they were way too intelligent to speak that way :-)

Definitely not your typical middle school sex ed class, but then we already know all the "real" stuff.

You know what?  I am so, so grateful to have a Mom who was uncomfortable about such things and yet forced herself to be open and honest about answering my questions and providing information.  What I learned from that was that information in and of itself is not bad, does not lead kids astray, etc.  It is all in attitude and how that information is presented.  Information presented without values and explanations attached is what I want to avoid.  Sure, one benefit of homeschooling is that our kids aren't being exposed to certain behaviors at the ever-increasingly lower ages that is happening all around us today.  I'll admit that.  However, regardless of people's incorrect assumptions and categorization that every homeschooler is homeschooling to indoctrinate their kids and to shelter them from the world, those things were not even on our list really at all as reasons for homeschooling.

We simply wanted our kids to have as much of a childhood as we could manage to salvage for them.  We wanted material presented with morals.  We wanted to customize their education so that any child could work at whatever level they actually were at in any subject.  That's all.  And I laugh as I type this and realize that 3 years ago when we began homeschooling, I never thought about having to fill in the cultural gaps and give my kids a "Naughty Words 101" class!

I like THIS one the best though, for truthfully these are the naughty words I don't EVER want my kids saying:


Bridget said...


My twins boys are just about to turn 5. I have always used the word penis for their penis, and never anything else. Unfortunately, one of my boys said penis in his Pre-K class and got a reaction from another child. He got in trouble for saying the word, as he should have been. I am trying to teach him when he cans say the word, and when he cannot. Really hard assignment. Due to one of my boys' special need, we are in the public school system. It has been fabulous for us, so home schooling is not a good option for us right now. How did you teach your kids when to use the right body language in the right way - or is just something I need to teach when my guys are older?

I don't comment often, but I do read your blog. I still hope the Kyrgyz 65 (including Issac) come home soon.

Thanks for your 1100 blogs!


Kathryn said...

Your impromptu language class reminded me of college, when I was learning German. We had one class session devoted to swearing. Why? Because the teacher told us if we ever really were talking to someone who was cussing at us, we'd really be better off if we knew it! And I had to agree!

Kathy W

Karon and John said...

You crack me up. I can still remember our exchange student wanting to know about what the term "doush bag" ment. Also he asked out of the blue about what "I'll show you the ropes" meant. I asked him where he heard it and he told me it was on a song he heard. The next day we heard the song in the car and I totaly started blushing when he asked me what the song was about. It was giving great detailed instructions about oral sex. I was not ready for such a discussion and I made John explain it.

Anonymous said...

As I was filling the car with gas today I heard someone yelling with glee, "Oh, s--t, oh,s--t," over and over again. Then he shouted, "I would never have recognized you. Oh, s--t, it's great to see you." This was casual, perfectly acceptable language for him. She, the woman he was commenting about, then introduced s--t man to her fiance. I wonder if in the fiance's vocabulary the same language is normal.

We are becoming desensitized to language. Here is a gift that we have, and it is not recognized as that. The ability to communicate with clarity, abundance, and beauty is being lost on some as we degrade it, abbreviate it, and substitute brevity for clarity.

Congratulations on teaching the kids Naughty Words (and gestures) 101. In ten years I don't expect to hear anyone of them greeting a long-lost friend loudly in public with "Oh, s--t"--a hug maybe but not "Oh,..."

Oh, that all children could get the education, love, and values that you are teaching,