Horse Sh!t

There comes a time in every mother’s life when she has to admit to the awful truth that she is simply a bad influence on her child. At least I would I like to believe that happens with all mothers. I can’t be alone on this one; I can’t be the only mother who sometimes models less-than-exemplary behavior. To be honest, I do a pretty good job as a mother; I have an apron and I wear it while baking cookies; I can sew a teddy bear’s tail on in under a minute; and I can make my daughter laugh to the point of nearly wetting her pants (the highest mothering honor in my opinion).

But I also swear. A lot. Like a sailor. On shore leave. Who has entered a swearing contest. And won. I have toned it down quite a bit since my daughter starting talking and uttered her first four-letter word from the backseat of the car. As shocked as I was at her word choice, I was also very proud that she used the word in the right context; the light was green and that guy should have gotten the hell out of the way, just as my eighteen-month-old suggested. But it was still my wake-up call to clean up my language.

Through intensive therapy (i.e. my husband constantly telling me I swear too much) I have been able to remove most of the foul language from my vernacular. In doing so, I have pioneered a new way of swearing that makes use of the word crap (come on, I can’t be expected to let go of every swear word and crap is so benign it barely even registers on the swearing spectrum). It’s very effective and hardly offensive at all. Some of my favorites are: crap-a-doodle, crap-a-moly, and crap-a-loo-la. They are quite versatile and can be used as adjectives or nouns, although never as verbs.

I’m pretty much a changed woman although in moments of extreme duress, I have been known to slip up. Like the time my husband and I got a letter from the IRS saying we owed an extra $5000 in taxes.

“That’s horse shit!” I exclaimed.

“What happened to crap-a-doodle?” my husband inquired.

“Crap-a-doodle is reserved for mild irritations like PTA meetings and traffic jams; anything to do with the IRS automatically gets upgraded to horse shit,” I explained.

“She’s going to hear you and you know she repeats everything you say,” he said, nodding toward our six-year-old coloring in the next room.

We curbed our discussion and I didn’t think anything else about it—until the following week.

“Mrs. Haas, I need you to come down to the school to discuss your daughter’s behavior today,” the now familiar principal’s voice sends a chill down my spine.

On the way to school I think, maybe she’s getting one of those ‘good citizen’ awards my friends’ kids always seem to get and plaster pictures of all over Facebook.

“Your daughter used the phrase horse shit today in class,” the principal tells me before I can even take a seat in her office.

“Crap-a-loo-la,” I muttered while holding back a giggle at the fact that the principal just said horse shit.

“Excuse me?” Luckily the principal hadn’t quite heard me.

“I mean, oh dear. By any chance was her class discussing the IRS at the time? Our family has a very strong reaction where the IRS is concerned,” I try to explain.

“Apparently there was no more room on the rug so your daughter was asked to sit on the floor near the sink for story time today,” the principal tells me.

“Well, that certainly sounds like horse shit to me,” I can’t help it; my baby sitting by the sink is total horse shit.

“Mrs. Haas, we are not here to decide whether or not the situation was horse shit; we are hear to discuss the fact that horse shit is not an appropriate word choice for the class room,” the principal manages to say with a straight face.

“Just as long as we can both agree that sitting by the sink is, in fact, horse shit,” I say. “I will talk to my daughter about better word choice. I was just thinking it is about time my daughter had a thesaurus; you can never have too many synonyms for horse shit these days.”


Later, I got a call from my husband.

“The principal called me this afternoon,” he said.

“Why? I had everything taken care of this morning,” I exclaimed.

“She said you are no longer allowed to attend meetings without me there to help you curtail your foul language,” he said flatly.

Now that’s horse shit.

Indiana Jones and the Grocery Store

Being a wife and mother in the suburbs isn’t everything reality TV makes it out to be. For instance, I have never ripped a wig off of another woman’s head after a heated debate about whose husband is currently sleeping with the floozy neighbor down the street, although I did once get very agitated by a woman at the park who was leading a discussion about canned vegetables vs. frozen vegetables. I didn’t hit her, but I did mumble some very passive-aggressive words in her general direction. Personally, I find the vegetable debate much more hair-pulling worthy than infidelity but I refrain from violence unless it’s a topic I am truly passionate about, like Diet Pepsi vs. Diet Coke.

Other than the occasional drama involving the preschool’s appalling shortage of blue tricycles, the suburbs can appear somewhat boring to the naked eye. But not to me. I love living in the suburbs. I love that there’s a man across the street who walks his cat on a leash; I love that we vie for neighborhood dominance through exemplary lawn care; and I love pretending to care about the neighbor’s story about her wilting pansies and how there may or may mot be a conspiracy afoot at the local nursery.

One of the most exciting places in the suburbs is the grocery store. It may seem like just a humble storage of food and household goods, but it is a pre-packaged snack paradise with a new thrill around every corner. Whenever I sit down to map out my latest shopping venture, I imagine I am Indiana Jones and the grocery store is the Temple of Doom.

Like Indiana Jones, I have a couple of sidekicks, but I do all the dirty work myself. I can’t trust anyone on a mission as important as grocery shopping. Sure, my husband and daughter have offered to do the shopping for me and once I even conceded and let them. They were at the store for over three hours and came back with a gallon of egg nog, a jumbo bag of M&Ms, and seven coloring books, none of which were on the list I gave them. No, Indy never sat back and let his sidekicks search for the priceless artifact, nor will I sit back and let my husband and daughter shop for the overpriced chuck roast.

Although I have yet to encounter any giant boulders tumbling menacingly through the cookie aisle, I do still find myself in perilous situations while shopping. The biggest hazards I face in the grocery store are the S.O.A.A. (‘Shoppers of Advanced Age’). These are a kind bunch of folks who have come to the grocery store as a full day’s activity. This contrasts dramatically with my philosophy that shopping is dangerous task that must be approached strategically and completed quickly. These are the sweet, blue-haired ladies that agonize over which grapes are best and then end up filling a bag with one grape at a time. It’s at times like this I ask myself, What would Indiana Jones do? But I usually just end up browsing the produce section and wondering what good the lima bean has ever done for society at large until I am free to make my grape selection.

Indiana Jones could face down any danger armed only with his whip and his wit—I have my ATM card and an overdeveloped sense of sarcasm. His only fear was snakes. My only fear is the tantrum lane. All moms know the tantrum lane: it is that one check-out lane that is lined with ridiculous amounts of candy all at four-year-old eye level. Suckers in the shape of baby bottles, candy-filled planes complete with spinning propellers, and huge pieces of taffy that come with ten-percent-off coupons for the dentist bill you will inevitably incur if you eat the stuff. Like Indy and snakes, I avoid this lane at all costs when I have my daughter/sidekick in tow. I’ll stand in line an extra twenty minutes behind the lady buying eighty-four jars of mustard with coupons just to avoid the tantrum aisle. I like a bit of danger, but I’m not a fool.

No, this kind of suburban excitement isn’t for everyone; it’s just for those of us with a fearless heart, a thirst for adventure, and an empty pantry.