Years ago, the first time I heard a student use a cuss word, I immediately freaked out and sent him to the principal. Now I rarely even flinch. Unfortunately with the uncensored viewing habits of small children, many of my first graders can, and do, use very inappropriate language at times. I was thinking about a couple of recent instances that I thought I might share, and then share a lesson behind them.
This past spring, during the moment of silence, a little boy would not stop talking. It was annoying his neighbor, who leaned in to whisper to him to be quiet. I appreciated the intervention, as I was tied up with another student in mid crisis. I could not hear the exact words that were used, but assumed they were well meant. In an instant, the talkative little boy's hand shot into the air. I said, "Yes, sir?" He said, "Mrs. Kemp, he just said 'shut up mother f***er.'" To which I replied, "Get in the hall, right now." As I was dealing with the incident, the talkative little boy said, "Mrs. Kemp, I knew you'd want to know right away because shut up is a REALLY bad word."
I had to not laugh until both boys were back in the classroom, and I had closed the door to be alone in the hall.
A very similar instance occurred yesterday. One of my ESL little girls was sitting at the reading table with several other students. She is struggling with English, so I had a hard time getting the whole story. Apparently some guy came to visit their house and was quite rude. She said, "Mrs. Kemp, my mom say I ask you bout mean boy. He point this finger at mom (middle one) and say 'stupid f***ing bitch'" My mom not know what that is and say ask you, but I tell her not nice, stupid very bad word."
These are just a couple of many, many times I have heard children concerned about words like "stupid, shut up, fart, butt, and crap" more than genuinely horrible cuss words. I was thinking about this today and saw a lesson there for me. I often get caught up in trying to fix small, inconsequential things (like shut up and stupid), when there are really big things in my life that need to be changed.
We often emphasize our small flaws so that attention isn't drawn to the real stuff that we need to deal with. We point the finger at other people's small annoying behaviors, when huge darkness is in our own heart. I hope the next time I try to point out somebody else's sin, or even sugar coat my own sin, that God reminds that it's like I'm freaking out about saying "shut up" when the big bad stuff is in my heart.