Everybody remembers their first curse word, right?

I remember mine.

I was probably about six years old…

We were headed out to our cousin’s house.  They lived in the country, with miles of trails to explore.  We arrived at their house, and I saw their bikes and my brother’s bike (which he had left there at our last visit), and immediately knew that a biking adventure was in the plans.

I had no bike with me.  Crushing disappointment.

I yelled out, “Aww, DAMN!”

Mom and Dad simultaneously gasped and looked back at me.

“What did you say?”

“I forgot to bring my bike!!”

“Yes, but what did you say?”

“….was that a bad word?”

“Um, Yes.  Don’t say it again.”

Despite there being no punishment due to my lack of understanding, my overactive conscience attacked me all day long.  Not only did I not enjoy our visit because I forgot my bike, but for the entire visit, I remember sitting, alone, near tears, marinating in my overwhelming guilt regarding my filthy language.

But what I don’t remember is who taught me that word.

Ali, however, was able to tell me exactly where she learned it.


We were in Cahaba Heights last week, and as Ali does nearly constantly these days, she was pointing to all of the uprooted trees and crushed roofs and saying, “Wow! Look at all that tornado damage!!”

We talked about the trees, about the flattened fences, about the houses with tarps on their roofs – just like we do every time we drive through.

Then she asked… “What’s the first part of that word Damage mean, Dam?”

“It’s all one word – Damage.”

“Yes, but what’s damn mean? It’s a word, too.”

“Well, It’s a wall that holds back water…”

“No, not that kind of dam. what’s DAMN mean?”

“Where have you heard that word?”

“One of my party friends taught it to me.”

“I bet it was  Serious Witch*, wasn’t it?”


Somehow I think it will be time to put those pretend friends in time out again soon…but at least since Ali’s tummy pretty much stays there, they’ll have plenty of company with which to swap newly learned curse words.

* Serious, in this case, is defined as “not quite mean, but also not happy.  So she’s just ‘serious’.”   And also in serious trouble – if I can ever find her.

30 thoughts on “Gateway Cursing.

  1. you are lucky I remember my first cuss word which unfortunatley was a little worse than yours, I heard my cousin say it and when I said it at home I actually got my mouth washed out with soap. I guess I knew it was bad word when I said it but trust me after that I have tried to refrain from ever saying anything that could be a cuss word.

  2. I wonder where Serious Witch heard it?? Hmmm… I remember my 1st curse word because I was alone & mad at my sister & my 8y/o self got really quiet & whispered “who the h*#@ does she think she is?!”

    I enjoyed it & I still enjoy the occasional “word” when attempting to navigate Birmingham construction traffic. I find it’s therapeutic.

  3. I remember when my son said that word. He was out talking to Ben our border collie and Ben would not sit down. that is when I heard him say it. I asked him – what did you say… where did you hear that at….
    I heard it on my Ninja Turtle movie… I had no idea that it was on there…
    i explained that he could not use that word… everything was good…

  4. Haha. My first cuss word: We were driving from church (where my dad was the preacher) with 2 college students to take them to lunch. Someone asked, “Where are we going?” And I (5 or 6 years old) said, “To h#ll, I hope.” My parents were flabbergasted and asked me why I said that, etc. I said, “Well, I just heard that phrase on ‘The Ten Commandments’ “.

  5. My mom swore a lot while we were growing up, so it wasn’t like we didn’t know all the words. But, of course it was a situation of “do as I “say” and not as I do”.

    However, in third grade, I was teased and bullied a lot at school and one day one of the girls in my class literally jumped on my back and wouldn’t get off. I screamed the f-word at her and of course a yard monitor heard and wrote me a pink slip (but, didn’t write her one). I had to get the pink slipped signed by mother and she was livid. When I told her the story, she went in to the principal’s office the next day and made a huge stink.

    After that, I was more careful about letting those words fly in public.

  6. I actually don’t curse. At all. (I know, I’m weird.) My wife, on the other hand, grew up watching hockey players and learned quite a few colorful phrases from them. Cursing in front of our kids is a sore spot with me. I’m not under the illusion that they’ll be “curse free” like myself, but I’m not in a hurry for them to learn those words.

  7. I don’t know if it was the first time or not, but I remember very clearly reading (out loud) the F word on the side of a passing train when I was 5. I was with my dad and stepmother, and I think it was even a sorer subject with them than it would’ve been with my mom, because if I repeated it again in front of Mom, I’m sure she would’ve assumed I learned it from them.

    Nanny experience: Driving 3-year-old and 5-year-old while their parents were out of town, came over a hill in Liberty Park to find the gate I was planning to exit through was locked down for the night. I muttered “Aw, shoot.” and the 3-year-old said “You’re supposed to say Dammit!”

    Cue heart attack. Good news: kids learned it from their dad, not from me. Parents were highly amused that I was so paranoid about where they’d think he learned it.

    My own kid has picked up a couple of choice words… usually during football season. OF COURSE not from me. *cough*

  8. That is hilarious. You have quite a creative, imaginative girl. I can remember my brother spouting off a stream of cuss words…turns out the Dennis the Menace movie had had quite an impact on him…he did a great Walter Matheau impersonation. I, watching him get in trouble, thought it was quite hilarious.

  9. I know that we shouldn’t think it is funny when the little ones say curse words, but it just is. James doesn’t say Dino Dan, he says Dino Damn, and it is hilarious. And we might just egg him on a little bit too.

    1. I know what you mean. I remember Ali going through a phase where about a dozen of her words sounded like curse words. It was SO hard not to laugh!

  10. I don’t remember saying any words myself, but when I was about 16 I was babysitting for this very prim and proper family in my church. The little girl was about 3 years old and she was trying to put some puzzles back in her closet. Well, the puzzles all fell and pieces went everywhere. Without missing a beat she said, “Well dammit! What am I going to do now?”

    After I caught my breath and quit laughing I asked her where she had heard that word and she said, “My Daddy says it all the time!”

    Out of the mouths of babes!

    Oh, and I got busted for saying the “B” word in my house last night. Jackson piped up and said, “Mama, we’re not supposed to say butt!”

    1. Hilarious!
      And I’ve caught myself saying several things lately that I wouldn’t want Ali to repeat – saying “butt” or teasingly telling Chris to shut up. She just hasn’t been repeating anything lately, so I haven’t been paying attention. I have a feeling she’s going to “teach me a lesson” soon.

  11. I don’t remember ever actually cursing when I was little, but there WAS some spelling. I remember daring our next door neighbor to say “A-?-%”. So, he said, “A-?-%”. “No, no, no, say what it SPELLS.” He refused, and I got in big trouble. Needless to say, I wouldn’t worry about Noah’s godparents letting him get away with anything in the foul language department.

  12. I remember saying, “Mrs. Lewis is going down the alley.” My Mama heard, “Mrs. Lewis is in the damn alley.” Then I remember the yelling match as I was defending what I really said. Well, you know Mama she was always right and I still got in troulble for something I did not say. It is a very funny memory now, at the time I was so mad at Mama.

  13. I, of course, will not participate in this potty talk, however…

    I remember when my sister was about 6 or 7 and she said she didn’t want to “go clean my damning room”!! That was pretty funny! She couldn’t even curse correctly!

  14. My first cuss word was the big one. In 2nd grade, mean Joe Green (surely his legal name) and my crush, Benji said if I would yell out “cuff” backwards then my teacher would move my seat by hers so I could be the class helper. I did. And she did. And there may have been paddling.

  15. That is hilarious! I can just imagine what was going through your parent’s minds. :) I remember my first curse word…I think I was in the 5th or 6th grade. We had just gotten new puppies and I was trying to teach mine to do tricks. I had taught him sit and was working on shake. We were going over and over and over it. “Sit, shake, sit, shake, sit, shake”. My voice was getting louder and louder and all of the sudden it came out “SH#$”. My mom gasped and then started laughing. I was so embarrassed. I don’t think I have said a curse word out loud since. :)

    P.S. Love the pic of Ali. She looks so sweet. And not at all serious*. :)

  16. What a funny post! I said my first “cuss” word when I was four — I said, “Ain’t.” Although it wasn’t an actual dirty word, my intention was the same. My Dad always used the word “ain’t,” and Mom wanted my grammar to be correct, so she told me that “ain’t” was a bad word. I got mad one time (don’t remember why), and I put my hands on my hips, stomped my foot and said, “Ain’t! Ain’t! Ain’t!” I got in trouble because my intention was to curse, even though the word I picked didn’t officially qualify as a cuss word. :)

  17. My mom is Dutch so we didn’t learn any ENGLISH curses until late in life. I DO remember repeating back one of my mom’s favorite phrases to my Oma, and asking her what it meant. She didn’t answer me, but walked over to my mom and smacked her upside the back of the head. Hee hee.

    Unfortunately I can’t say the same for MY kids. I live on the ground floor in the middle of the city, so sadly there is a lot of education going on. During one particularly bad day when a VERY aggressive couple was having a raging marital spat outside my living room window, I sat down with my son and discussed the meaning of all the words they were using (mostly the F one) and why we would never want to use those words. I was very happy when he was able to think up a bunch of reasons all on his own, and even repeated some of the couple’s fight back to me, editing out all the bad words (instinctively knowing he shouldn’t say them). Most of the time he is a normal five-year-old boy (AKA ADD tasmanian devil on crack) but occasionally he surprises me. :)

    Now his Mommy just has to avoid getting SHOT someday when she looses it and lunges out her living room window to strangle some sidewalk curser. Or that guy who stops right outside the baby’s window with his stereo cranked to BOOM level during nap time. I hate that guy.

  18. I have had to do some back-reading since I’ve not been able to check the blog on my usual daily routine, and I have enjoyed reading the comments on everyone’s “first curse word” as much as your original post! SO, of course I have to share mine… :)

    So I was in the floor of our living room watching TV with my brother (probably Sesame Street) when I got the bright idea to take a word and only change the first letter so that it makes a lot of different words… so of course I chose “duck” and starting with A, worked my way through the alphabet, changing the first letter… (most of them make no sense, but don’t try explaining that to my 6 y/o self) Auck, Buck, Cuck, Duck, Euck F… my older brother stopped me VERY quickly and informed me that it was a bad word. I replied: Which one?? Really…?

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