The other day, my youngest stood in line with me outside of a shop and yelled, “Mom, let’s get inside. I’m freezing my ass off.”
Everyone around us laughed. (I guess it’s cute to hear kids curse in a foreign language.) And people here don’t mind; in fact, they regard curse words as just another colourful adjective in their daily conversation. When I moved here, I spoke with numerous people who told me that, here in the Veneto region, they are known for two things: drinking all day and cursing. I have found it to be true. (And I think I found my haven, which is why we shall stay and call this place home.)
The Veneto region is the largest wine producer in all of Italy, which may explain why people here start drinking mid-morning and continue throughout the day, until the digestivo after dinner. They aren’t getting drunk, just a simple drink to mark the mid-morning, lunch, happy hour, dinner, and pre-bedtime. At Archie’s swim lessons in the summer, a group of men would always meet at the pool and open a bottle of white wine…at ten am. I find it all very civilized. My mom was shocked when she visited for the first time and she saw everyone drinking Aperol Spritzes in the piazza before eleven am, then she ordered one. When in Veneto…
They also have a fondness for cursing. I hear it everywhere – around town, at the butcher, and even with the mothers waiting to pick their kids up from school..’.cazzo’ this, and ‘cazzo’ that. (I swear, the Italians have more words for specific body parts than I could ever come up with in my life.) A friend of ours who grew up here told us that our sons will be picking up a lot of curse words at school, so get ready and don’t be shocked. Sure enough, just a few weeks later, I received an email from Archie’s teacher. She had sent a notice to all of the parents in his class asking us to please be mindful of the language we use at home, because a lot kids in his class were cursing at school. (I immediately exempted my child from this since he only knows how to curse in English) but I asked Archie about it nonetheless, and he confirmed that kids in his class were using bad words; so we had a talk about expressing ourselves in a more elevated manner. There, I did my part.
I wouldn’t say I use offensive language on a regular basis, but it does escape on occasion, mostly in bursts of anger, regardless of who is around. It is something I am working on, but old habits die a slow and pitiful death. I remember whenever a four letter word escaped my lips around my Italian ex, he would cringe and say, “Leeeza, you are so classy. Not even the Romans were so vulgar.” (He was from Piedmont, not Veneto.) And to this day, when I let loose on a verbal assault, I still hear those words in my head….you are so classy. And I try to do better.
So, now we have unleashed the conversation of “good” words versus “bad” words in our house. Archie and Rhett ask all the time if a word is good or bad. Most of the time they pick words that are “bad” and ask if they are “bad” just to say the word- knowing full well that they are bad. “Mom, do I say it’s the fucking weekend, or the freakin’ weekend?” Ummmm, neither. It’s exhausting.
So, I try not to make a big deal of it and I tell them words themselves aren’t bad, they are just sounds and vibrations – it is the meaning behind the words that we need to be aware of, and most importantly, how these words affect other people. I also try to include all words in the whole word conversation. For instance, there are certain words that are off-limits in our house. The B word is one of them. I tell them that only Boring people are ever Bored, and Can’t is a four letter word – not because of the words themselves, but because of the meaning behind them.
I try to make them understand that words are powerful vibrations that shape our reality in very real ways, so be impeccable with your word. I tell them to speak of what they want, not of what they don’t want. The universe does not understand the negative, so if you don’t want to fall ill, instead of saying you don’t want to get sick, say you wish to stay healthy.
Mother Teresa understood this perfectly. She said she would never attend an Anti-War protest, but she would accept an invitation to a Pro-Peace rally any day; and if you just say it aloud, you can actually feel the difference. You get what you focus on.
So, each night, after a story, Archie and Rhett say what they are thankful for that day. By ending the day with the words, “I am thankful for…” it gets them focused on abundance and gratitude – what they have, not what they seemingly lack.
Words literally matter. They create our reality. So do thoughts and actions. Together, they unlock the holy trinity of creation and a happy life. And if a few curse words happen to enter the mix every now and then, or if I get an email from a well meaning teacher, I’m not going to sweat it. I’ll just take the Venetoan’s lead, and curse with enthusiasm, vigour, and laughter…while toasting to health with my Aperol Spritz at 10 am.