Mama Told Me Not to Swear · 15 April 2023

I told the short version of my mom telling me not to swear story before, but I figured I might as well tell the rest.

Way back in third grade, my mom told me not to swear. She might have said it was a sin. Or that it was not a nice thing to do. Or something like that. I do not remember that part. In fact, I do not remember much of the story. I just remember she told me not to swear. So I did not swear until I was an adult. But even then, I could not get over the fact that I was disobeying Mom. So I have not done much swearing even as an adult.

But back to third grade.

I remember learning how to swear in third grade. All the other kids were learning how to swear, so I figured I ought to learn too. There were all those great four letter words, so I figured I ought to use them along with my buddies. We started out with words that were funny and not real swear words. Words like fart. Then, we graduated to almost-swear words like crap. Then, we used the s-word and the granddaddy of all swear words, the f-bomb. (Actually, I do not remember using the f-bomb, but I must have a time or two).

Of course, we did not call the f-bomb the f-bomb back then. We said “the f-word” or we just said it. Of course, we had to cover our mouths after saying it. After all, the normal response to swearing back then was, “Do you kiss your mother with that foul mouth?”

At any rate.

Even though the swear words come out “sackamfrackam consarn no good something or other” (or something like that) in A Christmas Story, we all know that like Ralphie, we learn how to swear from our parents. After all, they are our role models. And we often turn out just like them. (Which is a completely different story.)

Unlike Ralphie, I did not hear that much swearing from my dad. He really only said the s-word. At least that I remember. Oh sure, we heard “Bakatare” plenty from Grandpa and even a time or two from our dad when either of them was mad at us. But bakatare just meant stupid head or something like that. At least we thought it was fairly innocuous. Nothing like the s-word, and definitely not like an f-bomb.

At any rate. I learned most of my swear words from the playground during third grade.

One day, I must have said something in front of Mom. I do not think she got mad or anything, but she did say that I was not allowed to swear. And that was pretty much it. My swearing days were over even before they really began. I did not even swear at school because we had learned somewhere in my childhood that character was what you do when nobody else is looking. At least I think we learned that as kids. But I do not think people had to say it back then.


The funny thing is that I do not remember much swearing or cussing from any of my friends after Mom told me not to. I think it was probably because all the other kids’ moms told them to knock it off too. Probably on the same day as mine did in the same way mine did.

I know that there are many things that people probably do not do because their parents told them not to do so. Just like there are many things that people do despite their moms having told them not to. Life is sorta funny that way. As for me, I am happy not to do stuff just because my mama told me not to. And Mama told me not to swear.

© 2023 Michael T. Miyoshi

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