Good Enough Mother will try to do this without embarrassing all parties involved. I do think, however, that will be impossible.

When I was 10-years-old, I said my first cuss word. It happened while we were playing on the monkey bars at the Ross’ house and I slipped. I must not have hurt myself too badly because I said “hell” and you know when you really hurt yourself, much worse is bound to slip out.

My hands, almost instinctively went to my mouth in a vain attempt to get those four little letters back from whence they came. To no avail. I self-flagellated for the rest of the playdate.

I remember this like it was yesterday.  I tossed and turned in the bed, unable to sleep or shake the feeling that I had let my parents down. Finally after several hours, I went to my mother and cozied up in her lap as she sat in her easy chair. “Mom, I said a bad word today.” She asked what it was and I told her. She was incredibly forgiving and asked that I not say that again replacing the pieces of my innocence lost by my own actions.

I sort of imagined it working out that way with my own kids all the while secretly hoping they would opt not to use the blue words. Uh, yeah.

The other day, as I was lounging on Cole’s bed, I found his iPhone.  It was not password protected so I mindlessly started thumbing through the text messages. What I saw next was so hot I almost dropped the phone. I will spare you the exact words lest your computer screen spontaneously combust.

“Casey this is bullsh*t! I don’t understand this! What the FU*K? What do I need to do so that I can understand how to download music?” (The word assho*e was in there too but I cannot remember the context.)

WHAT THE HELL? It takes most people 4 years in the military to learn to swear like that and yet my 12-year-old was dropping F bombs like he was being paid to do it! “Cole is this text from you?” He stared at it a long time, you know the way you do when your mind is whirring for an excuse.  “Well yes, but I was REALLY frustrated!” “ THAT DOES NOT MATTER! THAT IS NOT HOW WE TALK, EVER!” That was basically all I could muster.

As I slid into bed that night, Buff, sensing something was wrong, asked me what was up. I didn’t have the nerve to tell him I was heartbroken because we were raising a merchant marine.

The next morning, Cole came downstairs and I was still so upset I couldn’t even speak. But after the waffles I found my voice. “If you EVER speak or write those words again, I will take every electronic device you have for a month! And don’t think I won’t find out because I will.” Cole nodded his head.

More than the shock was the incredible sense of disappointment I felt – disappointment in him and in myself that as his mother I had not instilled in him the code of behavior for this family. Isn’t that part of my job? Yes it is – and I failed. The self-flagellating rivaled what I went thorough 37 years ago after the incident at the Ross house. But what I really mourned was the loss of innocence. The same boy who plays soldier with his air soft guns and is afraid of the dark, used words I didn’t learn until college.

Even now, days later, I’m not sure how I feel. A part of me hopes this will be the last of the cussing, but come on it wasn’t for me, now was it? Hell to the no it was not. And once that horse has left the barn, it’s hard to get it back. Good Enough Mother could use some help on this one. Has this happened to you? What did you do?

Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.


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  2. Tiffany

    July 29, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Rene this is too sweet. I recall being a kid and I loved to curse. It was like a passage into secret adulthood. I don’t recall using hell in the context that you used it. My words were much worse. At 8 I knew how to use them. And it felt good. I never went to bed sad about what I did I always went to bed thinking of other ways to curse someone out. I guess it was not a shock I mean, we grew up in Pine Acres and since I could remember we always had a cafe. It was nestled in a corner on our land and the drunks could swear better than anyone. I know this is sad case but just know that at least Cole is not in the midst of thin pine trees drinking the liquor that was stolen from the cafe and replacing it with urine. yes, we did that too. I would be devistated if I found that my precious Sanaa-Marie and Gage-Joaquin were to ever do the things i and my siblings did as children. I guess wha i amm trying to say is: Cole could be doing much worse. ( in no way am I condoning it though)

  3. DawnKA

    July 29, 2010 at 9:05 am

    LOL!!! I remember when my girls were little they would consider the word Shut Up as a curse. One day my daughter Ally came to me and confessed that someone had done something to her and she had cursed in her head. She was about 6 years old. I thought that was such an adorable thing to do (confess) for I for one would never confess even if someone mentioned it to my parents much less my very own private thoughts. And just a few days ago, I saw my oldest daughter now 24 response to her friend on FB with the LMAO and there I was on mommy patrol (I need to get a grip and let them be) but I said Hey what’s with the A? Thank goodness they don’t get all bent out of shape they just dismiss me as – Boy she’s really getting old acting like Grandma 😉
    As always, I love your posts, I can relate in so many ways.

  4. jacki marie

    July 30, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Rene, you should deal with this from a different angle. Instead of playing the mommy card and threatening punishment, speak to him as a “mentor.” When you’re not angry, sit him down and explain to him that you know he is smarter than that. And with his level of intelligence, he can choose words that better describe his feelings than those words. If they come out of him now , at this age, and he makes it a habit, he’s going to end up using them at a time that isn’t as private as a text and possibly hurt his career or get him into trouble in school or something… you can elaborate. Good habits are hard to break and he is at an age where he can/should develop those good habits. Remind him that his future is in his hands.


  6. Faun

    May 20, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I remember when I was young, my aunt told me if I could spell it, then I was allowed to say it…it didn’t seem that exciting to me anymore after that. I mean, being allowed to do it in the open? Rather than sneak & do it, with your friends? So, I stopped. But remember, children model what they see. And he’s also at the age where friends are very influential and he’s gotta fit in and be one of the cool kids (isn’t that an old saying??–lol)

  7. pattyrowland

    May 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    wow…your eyes were open wide, quickly and not in a good way…it’s hard to realize that our kids are the same as every other kid on the block…i truely believe that unless your child grew up amish, this is nothing new nor unexpected…it just hurts when we find out that our precious little child doesn’t conduct himself/herself in a way that we would expect given how he/she was taught…i hate to tell you this gem but you have many more years of being let down by your child…mine’s 20 and still doing it and no, she wasn’t raised like that.

  8. Irene

    May 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Someone told me once…”whatever you do Irene your child will do in excess…” I always try to keep that in the back of my mind when these “moments” in my parenting come in my life.

    Kids know…they know what we expect, where that line is…some kids toe the line, some kids cross it…it sounds to me like the Parman future mayor…crossed it. Because it was “his phone” probably never thought he would get busted….

    Isn’t it wine thirty yet? Hang in there…

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