February 28, 2021

Language, words, messages, punishment.

In my younger years I remember during the day while my mother was doing chores, sometimes things didn’t go perfect and sometimes she hurt herself, and immediately afterwards there would be an exclamation of words usually “damn it!”, occasionally something else. Over the years I would hear my father make his own exclamations during his frustrations, once in a disagreement with a neighbor calling her a “bitch”, usually though the words, “damn”, “hell”, or “asshole” were used.

Needless to say, I learned the words, some I learned in grade school from my peers, including the proper usage and contexts for them. One day that I was still pretty young, and it was right around Halloween time, I was fed up with being left out of all the candy and holiday fun, and the teasing and bullying from my peers at school and had to walk home from school. So, I made the decision that on my walk home from school I would knock on some doors and say “Trick or Treat” to hopefully get some candy not even dressed up in a costume and having been deprived of that for a few years at this point.

There were a few nice ladies that opened their doors and did offer some candy, which I excitedly accepted. Then I got home, and my mother was livid that I had gotten Halloween candy by not living up to the family value of not practicing the “devil’s” holiday in any sense of it. And so, I did what any normal boy would do, I had a bit of frustration and said some words at my mother that included the word “bitch”. This of course resulted in even less fun, out came a bar of hand soap, and into my mouth it went for what seemed like forever.

That was not the end of it, there was to be more after my father got home from work and my dirty words were relayed to him. There would be smacking of the ass in a hard and painful way to go along with the taste of soap that just couldn’t seem to leave my mouth.

Afterward the inevitable question of if I had learned my lesson would come. Well of course I learned my lesson, was I supposed to learn to never use the words? Without question. But what was it that I actually learned? it was quite clear a simple case of do as I say, and not as I do. It was also very clear these words are not to be used around family, under any circumstances, ever. Did I learn to stop using the words? Only around family, in fact I certainly used the words and more far more frequently away from family than if things had been handled differently. Ultimately the real lesson taught to me was to be more mindful of my audience and what is acceptable to them before communicating words.