F words: A lesson in diversity by an average American mom

Motherfessions Tales from the 'Hood

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wait. Don't cover your ears to censor me just yet. (OK, so you're reading this, but you get my point.)

I can recall my own childhood, clearly as a Joy soap bubble, that by mentioning certain words, especially certain F words, I could solicit much adult disapproval. But these are modern times and, according to the first amendment, I have the freedom to speak my mind. Yes, America, home of the brave, land of the diversely opinionated. I say that it's time we let it all hang out.

I'm talking about flatulence. Passing gas. Poofing. Ripping one. Cutting the Cheese. Shooting the bunny. Bloomer bloopers. Simply phrased: Farts.

Maybe my family is unique, but I don't think so. Medically speaking, the average human flatulates approximately 40 times a day. (I am not sure who decided to conduct this study.) So, strictly statistically speaking, we are an average American family. We ( I mean, they) fart frequently. The other day I got to reminiscing about this aromatic subject and the fond memories I have from when all the kids were all still at home and we had more tax deductions. There I was, evacuating the living room and holding my breath, as my husband and 2.3 sons were busy tooting their horns. They were having a contest. He who farted the loudest, the most or the foulest was the victor.

For the boys, farting has been a constant source of relief and comedy for years. We have video footage to prove this, endearing moments of things like a precious little boy with golden ringlets, clad in a darling pair of OshKosh B'Gosh overalls, squatting, looking up at the camera with nothing less than an angelic smile, grunting, then triumphantly announcing: "Turd honking!" ... all captured on film in order that we may pass the torch to future generations.

Some may say that I'm raising (raised) my boy(s) to be incorrigible heathens with no regard to social decorum, however, I believe they have learned to appreciate the vast differences in their uniqueness, talents and strengths in themselves, in their sibs, their own kids and in others as well.

Take Jake, the eldest. He could fart at will. Any time he needed or wanted to, he could belt out a thunder clap version of "Yankee Doodle," while eliciting uproarious rounds of applause and admiration from his younger brothers. He is now a wonderful father to his 1.2 kiddies, ever tuned in to when the situation calls for fast action or a good laugh. Recently he called to say he finally landed the perfect job: blowing things up. No surprise there.

Next in line is Alex, a kid who dreamed of serving his country since he was old enough to announce, "Nuclear meltdown!" He could clear a room in seconds with what we called the "Silent but Deadly" maneuver. Never mind grenades, this kid could launch a cherry bomb that could ferret out even the most staunch al-Qaida holdout. Today he is a machinist and a proud member of the United States Navy.

Then there's our youngest, Patrick, who's always been a quick study. He knew his ABC's before he attended kindergarten. He loves to read to us and still enjoys when we read to him. Although he is the only person in the house who can understand the directions for his new electronics kit, we find that any book that contains the word "fart" or alludes to farting will keep him spellbound for hours. When I asked him what he remembered most about his kindergarten experience, he replied with great enthusiasm, "Oh, that's easy, it was when (what's his name) crawled under the table and farted!" Clearly, the boy shows great academic promise.

Last, but certainly not least, is my most elderly child who still thinks it's a hoot to toot in bed and then trap me under the covers. Oh, yeah, baby, what a blast! Turn the fan on will you? Don't worry, I'll get you back ...

We also have a close family of friends that include many melting pot Americans, as well as Asian-American's, Native Alaskan-Americans, African-American Americans and Southern born and bred Americans. The boys have learned that there is a time and a place for everything. Burping can be in order after a good meal. "No Sir" and "Yes Ma'am" is a proper way to address some folks. Napkins go on laps unless ribs or muck-tuck is on the menu. We do draw the line when it comes to safety, and lighting farts is strictly prohibited. Then there are occasions where we should all squeeze our cheeks (or armpits) firmly together and be seen and not heard (or smelled.)

Maybe my sons will never win a war equipped with navy beans alone, or compensate for the rising price of energy by supplying their natural resources for Alaska's (proposed) natural gas pipeline project. Nor do I expect they'll win a Nobel Peace Prize by using the F words obsessively.

But, I'm very proud of my sons. I'm proud to be an average American mother of an average American family. I'm proud that I have taught all my kids to live peacefully in a family of friends, in a community of neighbors and in a country where diversity is the norm and where free speech is not only tolerated, but encouraged, even if it means using an occasional F word. I'm extremely proud that they totally understand that the freedom to be diverse is not an open license to offend. Different strokes for different folks when I'm at home with my boys that freedom sounds something like a two-stroke outboard.

As for me, it is a well-documented scientific fact that mom's do not fart, neither do their sweet, wonderful, darling daughters; they fluff. By the way, I'm also as proud as proud can be of my girls, Jeanene and Krista, who are now awesome mommies themselves.

Some time ago, on a very long family road trip to Anchorage that included a large baguette of sourdough bread and some onion-flavored cream cheese, the guys accused we females of farting. However, as I stated earlier, this is America, and we're guaranteed the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Besides, everyone knows not to feed the dog sourdough, "Baaaad Lilly!"

Jacki Michels is a freelance writer who lives (and breathes) in Soldotna. She plans to spend her husband's next dividend on an air purifier.

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