You've stubbed your toe, right?
There's nothing quite like slamming your big toe (or even worse, your two outer toes) into an ottoman or Paw Patrol snow boot that's been permanently wedged under the couch. It's a feeling that can't quite be replicated, unless you ask someone to sneak up on you at the swimming pool and kick you in the foot.
Your body starts in a neutral resting state. Perhaps you're looking through the mail after a long day of work, or you're taking a sip of coffee in the morning as you turn the hallway corner. And that's when it happens. You're comfortable, you feel safe… and then you stub your toe. And dump coffee on yourself.
Or maybe you're reading a childhood favorite to your 4-year-old on the couch on a lovely fall afternoon. Feelings of physical and emotional warmth wash over you, inspiring you to actually use the hashtag #blessed on an instagram post… and then your sweet little munchkin headbutts you right in the nose.
Your body is suddenly flooded with adrenaline and hot, searing pain — especially if you've dumped scalding coffee down your front.
Now, I don't know about you, but my visceral, instinctive reaction is to let out a string of swear words that would make an edgy 70s standup comedian blush and baby pandas cry.
Why? Because there's a small person in your vicinity. A small person who, much like a parrot belonging to a craggy old pirate, will choose the most inappropriate words to imitate. No one wants to get a call from the preschool teacher saying that "Little Jonny stubbed his toe and screamed SON OF A—, which caused all the kids to break out in a rolicking chorus of swear words."
So what's an adrenaline-and-anger-filled parent to do?
That's what I'm here for, ladies and gents. I've been in this gig for a while now, and after almost 8 years of watching my words, I've come up with a toolbox of creative (but still satisfying) expletives that you can commit to memory for the next time you slip on a patch of marbles and slam your elbow into the refrigerator.
We'll start off easy: it's hard to beat a good, solid "D-word." In fact, if you can double your d-words, you'll double your satisfaction. "Dancing dictators," or "Don't tell mom the babysitter's Dead" are all satisfying options. Go for it, give it a shot. Find your favorite ones. There's nothing quite like a strong consonant to help you out when your vision is clouded by pain and freshly-spilled hot liquid.
"Oh my fanciful Frank Sinatra!"
Fffffffff. Say it with me: Ffffff. It's good, right? Top it off with a nice, open vowel to really start off with a bang and you've got a winner. After you've calmed down and no longer feel like crying in the fetal position, you can introduce your kids to the Classic Crooner's station on Pandora and bake some cookies. Right?
"Old Mother Hubbard!"
You know what I've noticed about childhood these days? You don't hear nearly as many kids reciting nursery rhymes as you used to. I say we bring it back, and the best way to do it is with this extremely satisfying faux expletive. You'll get to introduce your kids to some classic rhymes with slightly concerning Victorian themes, and you've got plenty of material to work with. Shouting "Humpty DUMPTY" or rocking back and forth in a ball while saying "Hey diddle diddle" both work fantastically.
Sometimes, all you can do is look to the heavens for comfort. If you've drawn blood, I think it would even be appropriate to scream "I am fortune's fool!" ala Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet, just for good measure.
Parenting is hard… so is keeping your mouth shut when it feels like one of your toes is exploding into a million pieces. Remember, we're all in this together.