Mr. and Mrs. Myers,
This is uncomfortable for me. Your son’s science fair poster has given me a glimpse into your home life I neither expected nor wanted, and quite frankly, I feel like a voyeur. Please know I am not here to judge anyone. Like you, my primary concern is the health and happiness of your son, and I am very much on your side. If, however, as his poster suggests, your child is routinely exposed to profanity like “dysentery sh*tstream” and “apocalyptic f*ck-tato,” we may need to do some problem-solving.
The poster has been disqualified from this weekend’s science fair, obviously, but two teachers, aside from myself, have already seen it. One of them has threatened to call child protective services. I assured Ms. Stratton we could handle this without the government, and that having met the two of you at our parent-teacher conference last fall, you are not the “Tarantino-esque psychopaths” she has inferred you to be.
Furthermore, I assured her the animosity you so obviously feel towards each other does not extend to your child.
I believe in compliment sandwiches. First, you have a very bright son. Marcel’s statistical analyses were shockingly sophisticated for an eight-year-old, and he clearly has a healthy curiosity about language. Second, you could both stand to use less wildly inappropriate verbiage around his impressionable young mind. I understand some couples resolve conflict with a more aggressive style, but this should occur behind closed doors. Third, you have raised a very observant child.
Marcel has been recording every utterance of profanity in your home for the past six months. The spreadsheet is quite impressive. He has even identified the factors most likely to result in a given profane outburst from each of you – nearly all of which, you won’t be shocked to learn, involve the other of you.
Are you aware, Mrs. Myers, that when you discover your husband hasn’t clipped an open bag of chips you are likely to use one of three expletives? Your son is. He has heard you, quite clearly, exclaim the words “Ghostbusting Monkey N*ts,” “Roman Legion of D*cks” and “Roth I. R. *sshole.” None of these phrases are appropriate for eight-year-old ears.
And Mr. Myers, please don’t think you’re off the hook. According to your son’s data, when your wife mentions her parents or siblings in conversation you yourself have four favorite slurs. This small child, who shouldn’t even watch PG13 movies yet, has listened to you describe his maternal family members as “The D*mn Puddle of Afterbirth You Grew Up With,” “Incandescent Sh*t-iots,” “Satan’s Customer Service Team in Hell,” and, on two occasions, “An NBC Pilot Full of Michael J. F*cks.”
What kind of message do you suppose that sends about empathy and respect?
I want to give you the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe the door to your bedroom is closed when you refer to each other as “Unceremonious *ss Grazer” or “Depression-Era Sex Toy,” and Marcel only overhears due to thin walls. But he seems to overhear these kinds of things a lot.
I could go on, but I trust I don’t need to.
The creativity and flair of your profanity, though befitting a pair of literature professors like yourselves, does not belong in a house with children. And perhaps, as educators, you should have more respect for the power of language. Your son has heard you use 114 variations on the “b” word alone. Which “b” word, you may be asking yourselves? Is that really a question you should have to ask?
It goes without saying we should meet, as soon as possible, to discuss this in person. When we do, I’ll assume I don’t need to remind you that profanity is inappropriate for an elementary school. Because children, Mr. and Mrs. Myers. Because children.