Pancake Needs a Time-Out
By Janey Pancake
“What are you fucking dooooo-ing?!”
This was the question that my 2 ½ year old daughter asked me on Sunday morning while I was mindlessly picking up some toys that she had strewn about her room, thereby unintentionally destroying her creative vision for a particular stuffed- animal vignette.
It goes without saying that you do not want your toddler child to say the word “fuck” – ever – but she had used the word correctly and appropriately in her questioning. There was a part of me that was proud of both her language comprehension and the artistic passion that informed her palpable outrage. I knew that I couldn’t react – even when she repeated the question with a practiced intensity and finger pointing.
The worst part about this scenario is, it is entirely my fault (and maybe a little bit of my brother’s – see: Family Summer Vacation, Horsefuck *cough*) because I tend to overuse the ribald language.
Giving up my habit of swearing has proven to be an incredibly challenging task. I vigilantly monitor myself when speaking in the presence of my children – so much so that my conversations are now filled with uncomfortable, long pauses while I wrack my brain for a more appropriate noun, verb or flavoring particle – fuck is a very versatile word, after all. With great practice, I have almost entirely eradicated the word from my day to day usage – but regrettably there is one place in which I am afraid I have not been successful in my purge: My car. I have kind of a bad temper already and I am a genuinely terrible driver, cruelly equipped with a non-existent sense of direction to make things worse – it is a most unfortunate combination. The act of driving anywhere is always a frustrating endeavor for me and one which routinely provokes sudden bursts of irrational anger – because as dangerously incompetent behind the wheel as I am – there always manages to be someone else on the road in my proximity who is even worse. My righteous indignation at other motorists is completely hypocritical, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling wrathful on a day to day basis – screaming, ”WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING DOING?” while driving comes as natural to me as the act of breathing air itself. This of course makes me not only a jerk but also a bad parent.
Having my daughter use my own words against me (and so soon, too) was a very illuminating experience – clearly my ways need to be mended. It is not acceptable adult behavior to yell, “DIE, SHIT-HEEL, DIE!” at your cell phone* while driving – even when my children are sleeping and presumably unaware. Finding a new means of emotional expression is the order for the day – I really don’t want to be getting a phone call from the kind staff members of my daughter’s PDO program informing me that the light of my life just boasted about horsefucking her snack. Ahem.
*those of you who have tried (and failed) to contact me via my old cell phone at any given time over the last few years, you know that phone had it coming. I found an astonishing amount of pleasure in the act of ripping the thing apart with my bare hands, saving the dismantled parts in a bag and then smashing them to pieces on my concrete floor with a ball peen hammer. I WILL SEE YOU IN HELL, OLD CELL PHONE.