Man, I have a lot of theories about humans and what we do. These theories totally come from a completely uninformed-informed place of self-reflection with a dose of internet browsing.
One of these theories about humans is that lots of our behavior acts like pipes, with each pipe devoted to keeping a certain emotion or reaction running smoothly. But just like pipes in our house, sometimes these pipes get backed up, or they build up too much pressure, or they run too slowly. We can deal with it for a time, but then we need to clean it out, call Roto Rooter and take care of the buildup.
You might have different labels, but some of my pipes have labels like:
It’s that last pipe, my Goodness pipe, that causes me a lot of problems.
Raised in a hearty Midwestern Christianity, I internalized lots of Goodness rules that I assumed would keep the contents of that pipe running smoothly. Goodness rules include: don’t sleep with people before you’re married, give to charity and don’t swear.
But over time, this Goodness pipe built up pressure, I started to reject Goodness. I became obsessed with the idea with sleeping with people, being selfish, and most of all, swearing.
Man, did I start swearing.
All the time, in a way that made me seem pretty base.
F-bombs, A-holes and G-d its all over town.
And swearing provided a kind of release valve, that in a weird way, made it easier to give to charity and take care of people. Eventually I had to “clean” that pipe by taking a closer look at what Goodness meant to me (instead of rules enforced by other humans). After defining Goodness for myself, I could also define what I needed to do to keep it healthy. And I started swearing a lot less.
Now, we don’t have much of a language policy in our house, since we entertain a lot. With lots of grownups around, we make it clear to our children that there are grownup words and kid words and it’s all about context. The kids are privy to the occasional cussword, but we try not to make a big deal of it.
That said, our family has our own swears that roll up to our definition of Goodness.
These two words simply cannot be said, or there are swift penalties.
We don’t say Shut Up and we don’t say Stupid.
If we say either of these, we have to put a dollar in the bunk bed jar.
We call these words X-words – which came from Dottie’s adorable misinterpretation of “S” words.
Our kids are the biggest X-word cops. Unsuspecting friends come over and tell stories about how stupid someone was during their commute – Ha! there’s a dollar for the bunk bed jar. People expressing their disbelief as, “SHUT UP!” yup, they put a dollar in the bunk bed jar.
Like I said above, I don’t mind releasing vice from our pipes in small doses to keep them running smoothly, I think by doing this, we can stay away from bigger, more troubling habits.
So once a week, in the bathtub, the girls get to say an X-word as much as they want. They look forward to it all week, the night they say an X-word in the bath tub.
So what’s blocking up your pipes? Is your anger pipe backed up? Would it benefit from a little healthy release of stuffed animal punching? Is your confusion pipe running too hot? Could it benefit from a week of clear judgement? Do you just need to get off of the Twitter?
Or do you just need to say an X-word in the bath?