Damian, a bright kid with faded self-esteem, could teach you a lot. With eyes focused on a white board he twirled a marker baton-like and made his first mark. A slanted, royal blue statement read: Damien was here.
The ink was still wet when he decided a verbal addition was needed. Of course, attention would flood his way when he swore. Sometimes there isn’t always an audience to hear a kid speak his mind. Everyone needs a witness. So he breathed in. And exhaled.
From Damien's lips came a short “S,” a confident grip on the reigns of the English language. Behind those four letters were lungs with an engine that burned fuel labeled Life’s-Too-Short-So-Just-Speak. The curse arrives at “it” before we knew what happened—a nine-year-old kid had lassoed a curse better than an Old West outlaw.
Although profanity, it was eloquent and held purpose. It wasn't the expletive that results from a stubbed toe or missed turned on the highway. The word was crafted with sincerity.
“That was a good one,” I said.
Damien slid into his chair, eyes back on the white board. “Thanks.”
“Can you teach me?” I asked.
“Can you teach me how to swear?”
Damien later shared that he expected punishment when he yelled his four letter manifesto. At least, that was the typical reaction he received. Freelance F-bombs and other verbal artillery were usually quick means to detention.
“Sure,” he said. “First, you'll need to breath in and flex your stomach.”
Like two philosophers we sat down and discussed the causality of a swear word.
We eventually discovered other ways to make marks. Other than swearing, that is. Like grabbing net on a not quite ten-foot hoop; or designing Boeing worthy paper airplanes, or unleashing an imagination that tends to disappear as time marches over our child-like awe. It's easy to forget how to be a kid.
Grown people trained in the basics of swearing from nine-year-olds learn that behind every curse word is a kid with something to say.
We would be wise to listen.