I lived the first fourteen years of my life in Greenville, South Carolina. I lived most of the next 10 in Madison, Georgia, which is where I was born, and where my Mothah’s family is from. I have lived the past 21 years in Atlanta, Georgia. Now, if I’m not Southern, I’ll kiss your ass….
Growing up, we had rules at our house. We had respect for our elders, not only for Mothah and Daddy, but for our grandparents and our teachers and the parents of our friends, and also for adults we did not know. We said “yes sir and yes ma’am”. We knew our boundaries, at least most of the time. We did not talk back. Things were different than they are today, and I am not exactly sure why–they just are.
When my brother and I were kids, there were just certain words that we were not allowed to say. I am not talking about run of the mill cuss words. (Here in the South, some of us are not so formal as to say curse words-at least not all the time) Of course those were off limits! But so was the word butt. Mothah considered that common and white-trash. We had to say bottom, or behind, or derrière, but never, ever butt, unless we wanted to get sent to our rooms. We could not say shut up. Our alternative was please be quiet, which simply does not have the same effect as yelling a good, forceful SHUT UP at one’s sibling. Yelling or saying or whispering, or even mouthing shut up would get us sent straight to our rooms. The very worst verbal offense; however, was not butt or shut up. It was the word fart. We were straight out forbidden to say fart. In fact, I can remember Mothah threatening to wash our mouths out with soap if we were to ever say it, and we could bet our little asses that if we even whispered or mouthed the word fart, we were headed straight to our rooms, and most likely after having had a spanking! And spankings from Mothah were few and far between. I remember it like it was yesterday….”You can say toot, but nevah, evah, can you say the word, faht, Jennifah, and I mean it!” Mothah said, whispering the ‘faht’ part like it was taboo, and it was for her. And for us! So, we did not say it. At least I did not. I don’t know if my brother said it. If he did, he said it on his own time! Of course I grew up only to cuss like a sailor. My children are not supposed to say fart. They know that I cannot stand that word. I was programmed to despise it. So, all three of them like to get in my face and say it as often as possible. The boys do have a point. It does not, in any way, sound the least bit manly or boyly, to say the word toot or the word poot after the age of four or five. My girl child, though, The Middle Child, she just needs to avoid the subject altogether. I think Mothah will agree.
What were you not allowed to say when you were a kid? Do you impose the same rules on your kids today?