Somewhere between last week and this week, Noah learned the word “dammit.”

I really don’t think it was from me because I keep my dammits mental, under my breath, and only out loud when I’m alone without my children. Because I’m a hypocrite like that.

But who knows. It could be my fault. Maybe he’s bugged my subconscious.

Upon his first usage of the word, he was walking down the stairs, sneezed, and said, “Dammit!”, I asked him, perchance, where he had heard that word before.

“I made it up.”

“Well, it’s a bad word so you don’t need to say it anymore.”

“But I just made it up. It’s just a word I made up. So why can’t I say it?”

“Well, I guess other people have also made it up and someone decided long ago that it was a bad word.”

…But the arbitrary nature of curse words is not what we’re here to talk about.

(I mean seriously, who decided that heiny > toosh > bum > bottom > butt > kiester > ass?)

(This is really a red-letter post for me and inappropriate language usage, no? I need to change my blog name to The Very Worst Deacon’s Wife for the day.)

Noah continued to joyously experiment with his new word, once while skipping happily through Zoolight Safari, looking at the Christmas lights, singing loudly, “Dammmmit dammit dammmm-it DAMMIT!”

It was really quite festive. And personally, wasn’t an inaccurate representation of my feelings toward the season at the moment, due to my current condition.

(Guys I promise I am aware that you’re most likely insanely sick of me referencing that stupid wreck but my life is currently 99% dictated by it, so it comes up A LOT. I promise as soon as it is no longer applicable to every moment of my existence, I will quit making you hear about it. I swear I’m not turning into Wolowitz about space….“Hey – that reminds me about that one time when I was in a wreck!”)

But back to Noah at the zoo.

I of course shut down his song like a good mother, and then we had another chat later in the car about why we aren’t going to say dammit and how it’s a bad word.

He accepted my rather vague explanation of why he couldn’t use his new favorite word, then after a second of contemplation, said,

“But Emmanuel isn’t a bad word, right? It means ‘God wif us.’ I used to think it just meant ‘God’, but I learned today at church that it means ‘God wif us.’”

He’s so good at making me feel like a winner right when I’m in failure mode.

So hopefully next Christmas while skipping joyously through Zoolight Safari, he will instead be singing “Emmanuel, Emmanuel, EMMANUEL!!”, which sounds much more contextually correct.

As I was dealing with my angst over my son’s language issue, a blog reader sent me a picture of this Tim Hawkins magnet:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.50.51 AM

GUYS. I NEED THIS. And I have already used the phrase Son of a Motherless Goat because who wouldn’t want to say that??

The description made it even better.

Do you or a loved one struggle with the righteous expression of daily furies and frustrations? Have you ever received a formal complaint from the nursery that your Terrible Two has been freely spouting one of the Forbidden Fours? This latest page from the Tim Hawkins Handbook charts out 101 carefully curated substitute swears suitable for taming the most torrid of tongues.

I MEAN. Considering my year (which is aptly described as 2-turd-15 or written as so…)


I need some vocabularic options. Especially this week, as I’m having another downward turn in my recovery.

Now, my normal go-tos when around my children are as follows…


Which brings me to a point where I believe another survey is necessary. We need scientific data and a wealth of suggestions from struggling mothers like ourselves. What are your favorite on-the-job words of exclamatory frustration?

If enough of you share, I’ll even put together a chart. And maybe even a graph. Or perhaps a printable reference sheet!

Because we all need help in this high-stress job of motherhood.

37 thoughts on “Properly Training Your Child to Curse.

  1. Well, my dear Czech Grandma used to say ” Condemn it !” pretty often. ( Then again, with her heavy European accent, she may just have been saying the real deal !) It just has a satisfying ring to it , somehow !

  2. My FIL says “bump,” as in “bump that,” or “bump him.” My niece, now 19, used to say she was “picked off” when she was Noah’s age, so that one is now a regular phrase in our family.
    I say geez Louise a lot… But usually I keep the cussing to a minimum, but when I do cuss, I’m all in (if I’m alone and, say, stub my toe – cover your ears.)

  3. We usually change the TF part of WTF into “da fudge”. I don’t remember how the got switched to da (pronounced as in Da Bears) but it did.
    Also, after listening to Big Little Lies, I’ve taken to saying “Calamity.” I love it.

    1. Oh, and my FIL, who isn’t around little kids that often, would catch himself while we were visiting. He’d say “Shhhhh….ugar.” Although, he’s from Maine so it was more “shoogah”

  4. This isn’t a cuss word substitute, but Tessa always says “I’m so poofed!” Instead of “pooped” when she’s tired. Poofed is a much nicer sounding word for sure.

  5. I’m a terrible example. I use crap, dang it and daggumit. My husband uses For the Love!, For Pete’s sake!, as well as the ones I use. I have heard the kids use crap and for the love. What bugs me the most though is my husband’s use of the word “stupid” to describe anything over the top (i.e. A really good movie = stupid good, something really crazy = stupid crazy, anything really good = it was stupid…). Drives me insane.

    1. “I use crap, dang it and daggummit.”

      Excuse me, but how is crap only a mild euphemism? It’s barely a euphemism. I guess every word have different meaning, but the craps to refer to poker is appropriate AND in the same very minor league, but the word crap used in annoyance or surprise is the one you don’t want to use everyday. Especially in the UK, where it’s worse than hell or damn. In the US it’s commonly a euphemism for s**t, although it could also be short for bulls**t (same meaning, completely different letters) when referring to bad things.

      1. What did you mean “excuse me”? Were you angry?? Or is your family British? Crap is NOT a bad word in America, it’s like saying bollocks or wanker.

  6. Hmm, my defaults tend to be “What the…” “Effin” “Frack” or whatever the curseword of choice is for whichever tv/book series I’ve been spending too much time in lately.

  7. I saw Tim Hawkins live once and he added “STRONGS EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE!!!” to this list!

    Sometimes I say, “Mother of Mercy!!” Today, in a moment of exasperation, I shortened it to just, “MOTHER…!!!” and the (adult) listener looked quite shocked! Listen, I cannot be held responsible for whatever your brain puts on the other side of that ellipsis! So if you ever hear me say MOTHER, just know it’s short for Mother of Mercy, and not…something else.

    I have other words I might say after a particularly horrendous children’s birthday party, but they do not qualify for this list.

  8. My pre-teen daughter at one point coined (or perhaps picked up somewhere) the phrase, “son of a biscuit!”. I kinda like that one :). But then there’s also swearing in other languages, like German (“Scheisse!” Another favorite of mine) or, since my husband is a teacher at a classical school, Latin (make sure there are no reading-aged kid eyes around when you click through):

  9. I’m actually surprised my child hasn’t used the word “dammit” yet. I could use a solid substitute because in a hot moment it slips right out. A couple of weeks ago I thought he was sing-songing, “damn damn damn” but when I probed for clarification I was relieved to learn he was sing-songing, “Dan Dan Dan…because dats what Daniel Tiger’s baby says.” Phew!

  10. Apparently I say “Oh, my goodness” a lot, because my almost 2 yr old with hearing loss & 40% speech delay can say that clearly! My favorite, though, was when I was a child and a dear, sweet, little old lady, Mennonite to boot (& whom I dearly loved) said, “My stars and garters!” I have never heard it since … except among my sisters and I. :)

  11. My kids are grown now, but I used to say “son of a biscuit eater” and “God bless America!” when they were particularly trying. I would also yell at the kids “we need to pray-RIGHT NOW!” Thanks for helping me remember that!!

  12. Since I sent you that magnet, I should probably chime in. I say Crap way too often. When my kids are being foolish, I often call them Dorks. We also call them Punks, but it’s in a more affectionate way. Oh, I call them Stinkers also. Someone else mentioned Oh My Goodness and I do that one a lot. I might do an occasional Shucks or Shoot.

  13. One I picked up from an Australian friend was Stink.
    My sister likes to quote Toy Story, ” Woody: The word I’m searching for I can’t say because there’s preschool toys present”
    We also use Bad Word! If you say it with gusto, it feels like an adequate substitute.

  14. My German grandmother taught me “schisse!” (pronounced Shy-za) and I had no idea what it meant until I was in college! Fantastic! I’m a fan of “cheese and rice” and “son of a biscuit” myself, but seriously, “crubbit” is one I’m going to have to start using. Because CRUBBIT. ;)
    Also, I will on occasion (always with children) I will do the ‘ol, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph… give me patience!” If you don’t add the last part, it’s a curse, if you DO at the last part, it’s a prayer! :)
    Hope you start feeling better very soon!

  15. I know exactly where child #2 learned dammit. He was 3.5 years. I documented it so that my failure could live forever.

    Me: What do you want, Evan?
    Evan: … (looking down and away)
    Me: Say what you want.
    Evan: Pweese…
    Me: Please what?
    Evan: Pweese what…
    (This happened a couple times)
    Me: Say words!
    Evan: Wuuds?
    Me: No, you’re just repeating me!
    Evan: Wapeeting me?
    Me: … (head down in defeat)…Dammit…
    Evan: Dammit?

  16. Not a Mom but I don’t like to swear, my general go-tos are freaka freakin freaka, son of a biscuit, fluffernutter, and lots of oh-my-goodness-es. I’ll also throw a HAAAAaaaavvvEEEE Meeerrrrccccy! in there if I’m being punchy.

  17. Dadgummit and dagnabbit are my go-tos when I’m frustrated…and as a home schooling mama of five, they get uttered pretty frequently.

  18. I’m not a mom but I try to watch my language on principle. My husband and I watch tons of British tv, so I have adopted some of their swears: bloody, bollocks, arsed, etc. Most folks here have no idea what I’m talking about, and those sound much nicer to me than our curse words. I’m sure I will be considered quite rude if I ever make it to the UK, though.

  19. I’m half Italian and my grandparents are full blooded Italian who spoke Italian. I was one of 15 grandchildren on my dad’s side, and my grandfather, Poppy as we called him, always referred to his grandchildren as “stronzos” (pronounced stroon-zuhs). It was like his Italian pet name for us, and I always thought of it as a term of endearment. Then when I started having kids, my dad kept with tradition and called my kids “stronzos”. Ryan thought it was strange and took it upon himself to google the meaning of the word. Ryan came to me one day and asked if I had any idea what my dad was calling our children. I said no that I’d never really thought about it. Then he goes on to tell me that a stronzo is Italian slang for “little (insert 4 letter word for turd)”! So all these years I thought my Poppy was calling me something like a “little pumpkin” and in reality he’s calling me a little ! So, if your kid’s being a then just call him a stronzo…unless your in the company of any real Italians.

  20. When I was a kid we had a babysitter who would say ‘oh for pooping in a bucket’. Of course mom put a stop to us trying that one out :D

    Also, my dad always used ‘Jimminy crickets’ on the VERY few times he felt any expressive language was necessary.

  21. Lol, those are awesome! I need to pick my favorite and go with it. One of K’s spelling games has a old guy in tattered overalls with missing teeth who says Great Googly Boogly when she gets an answer right and I think it’s hilarious every time. I used to babysit a little boy who would say, “Oh mother of pearl!” when he would get hit in his…sensitive areas. When I asked him about it he said that it was what his dad would say. Haha :)

  22. I have several – Jiminy Christmas, For the love, for the love of Christmas, and oh my stars.

    My favorite one though, is the one Penny said in an episode of BBT – “well, crap on a cracker!” – I normally only say it in my head though as I really try to avoid using “crap” but there was an incident involving an Olaf inflatable and extension cords a few days ago, and it came right out. My 15 year old – “Did you just say ‘crap on a cracker’?” and then we both laughed until we could hardly breathe.

  23. Umm, among all the ones I’m not supposed to say – Jesus, Mary, and Joseph . . . bless us all; God bless America . . . and all the ships at sea (those were my father’s); glulam-it; I don’t give a good glulam; and son of a biscuit. All of these would get me rapped on the head by grandmother who insisted that wooden swearing was no different from real swearing.

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