#@*$! Happens

swearword-symbolsLet me just tell you first off that I'm usually not one considered to have a "potty mouth" by most standards. I've long since phased out any sort of cursing or swearing, and although I don't freak out if someone accidentally lets one fly in front of my children it's not something that usually happens on my part. Usually. There are exceptions to everything, of course. My first experience with Inappropriate Uncontrollable Swearing (IUS for short) came long before I had any children. I was working as a camp counselor at an all girls sleepaway camp and I was having one hell of a day. It was my twenty first birthday, and I was less than thrilled with having to spend it at an all girls sleepaway camp. Added to that joy was the fact that the one lone pay phone, my only connection to the outside world, was not working that day. After a heavy early morning rain the ground was still muddy, and I was making my way back from the waterfront with half of the twenty third grade girls I had in my unit. This particular unit was fiercely divided, I must add, between the girls who liked the song "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and the girls who did NOT like the song "Who Let the Dogs Out?".  I, like the overwhelming majority of the other people in camp, sided with the girls who did not like the song "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and was pretty tired of the ongoing debate between the two groups. I'm using the term "debate" fairly loosely here, seeing as most of the discussions about their differences in opinion consisted of the one group singing "Who Let the Dogs Out?" at the top of their lungs while the other girls tried to drown them out by singing particularly annoying camp songs.

Two of my co-counselors were out of commission that day due to poison ivy, so I was left to fend for myself with this group of crabby nine year olds and was working on zero sleep due to three campers wetting their sleeping bags the night before. I was balancing a precarious pile of stuff in my hands, including three unclaimed shoes, two pairs of goggles, numerous wet socks, and a very important clipboard containing the only copy of my list of campers that I was to have with me at all times. Between competing rounds of "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and "I Know a Weenie Man" (yes an actual camp song about a man who owns a "weenie stand", I swear) a happy little bee landed gently on my finger and stung the very tip of it.

Now, although my tolerance for pain isn't something to call Ripley's Believe it or Not about, this bee sting really caught me off guard, thus adding to the pain and intensity of the sting. I flung the pile of stuff into the air, the important do-not-lose-or-you-are-screwed list landing softly and thickly into the mud, the ink immediately bleeding all over the page. Without a second thought I let loose a powerful explosion of expletives those serene woods had never heard before. I strung together every horrible forbidden word I had ever learned or heard in any language and screamed them out so loud birds took flight out of nearby trees in fear. When I finally stopped, breathing heavily, wiping hair off of my face, I was met with ten stunned pairs of wide eyes all staring at me silently. No one said a word.

Before I could figure out some sort of damage control the girls, who only mere minutes before were in opposing factions, banded together and quietly began picking up all of the stuff that I had thrown into the air, trying to wipe the mud off of the pages, each of them picking something up and starting to walk back up to camp. One of the girls took my hand, patted it, and said "You need a nap". We walked back up to our tents in a somber silence, and none of those girls ever mentioned my complete meltdown by the waterfront again. I debated having a little chat with them about bad words and how they aren't supposed to use them, but I think they learned a better lesson than that one that afternoon. The lesson being that sh*t happens, but you can always pick stuff back up again and move on, hopefully with a better attitude than when you started.

After I had my own children the memory of that day stuck with me, and I really try to keep my cool in situations that pre-kids I would have exercised less self-control, but sometimes it still happens, once or twice. I try not to beat myself up about it, and I always make sure the kids know that those words are never to be used, even though Mommy used them when trying to avoid running over the blind squirrel with a death wish that came out of NOWHERE or when I dropped the pizza stone on my foot. I also tell myself that I'm not the only mom who accidentally lets one slip, and that eventually all of their delicate little ears are going to hear those words, maybe even while under the care of a usually very responsible camp counselor. ***Update*** Jack says the "f-word", like a lot.