My oldest daughter has apparently taken up swearing at school and on the bus … certainly not one of my prouder moments as a mother.

A few weeks back she says to me, “The Hintz’s swear, heh, Mom?” I quickly replied saying,”I’m a Hintz, and I don’t swear.”

“Yeah, but Daddy does and Uncle does.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean you have to, Mackenzie.”

“Well, I don’t swear at home, Mom (that’s a lie). I ONLY swear at school.”

Exasperated (I am a teacher, remember), “”Really, Mackenzie? You swear at school? Where?”

“Well not where the teachers are, Mom. I swear far away from the teachers.”

“Why? What are you swearing for?” I press.

“My friends tell me that if I don’t swear they won’t be my friends anymore.”


Then, earlier this week, I witnessed her teaching her younger sister which finger was the swear finger (thankfully, she didn’t catch on).

The real kicker was an early morning text a couple of days ago from a fellow-parent. Mackenzie and I had just wrapped up reading a couple of early morning bible stories. Then WHAM. A text message indicating that my daughter was giving her two children (and another girl) the finger on the bus the day before. The mother wanted me to “have a chat” with my daughter about it. Again, not one of my prouder moments as a mother.

When my daughter burst into tears when confronted with the contents of the text message, I knew she was guilty. However, in typical Mackenzie fashion, she made excuses for her behaviour and tried to say that she was pointing the swear finger at herself, not at the other children. I explained to her that it is almost physically impossible to point the swear finger at yourself (go ahead and try it).

“And obviously, the other children went home and told their mother about you swearing at them, so they must have been upset.”

She needed to apologize and take responsibility for her actions.

“But, Mom,” she protested, “[Insert name of child my daughter gave the finger to] is the one who taught me about the swear finger.”


I made sure that by the end of our conversation my daughter heard me say, MANY times, “We NEVER swear at someone. There is no situation or circumstance that EVER warrants SWEARING AT someone. Even when we are angry, we NEVER swear at someone.”

I honestly don’t believe that my daughter understands that when we use the swear finger, we are saying “F*ck You!” (or the equivalent) to someone. And even if she knew that’s what it meant, I don’t really believe that my daughter knows how potentially hurtful such words can be. She is clueless of the weight (thankfully).

I assured the early morning texter that we would definitely have a serious chat about Mackenzie’s infraction, and we apologized. I couldn’t help but add, I certainly don’t want to make excuses for her behaviour, but I honestly don’t think Mackenzie really understands what she’s doing with her swear finger (she told me she was pointing it at herself … I talked to her about how that’s almost impossible). Unfortunately, this is one of those things that she picked up from school (I can say without question that no one in her home … Tyler or I … has ever used the swear finger).

And THIS IS TRUE. My husband and I (in sixteen+ years of being together) have NEVER sworn AT one another, even when we are arguing.

And, I know, it sounds SO MUCH like I am making excuses for my daughter (AGAIN) or blaming the school (I’m not)! It makes me cringe as I write it. BUT, I SWEAR she didn’t get it from me.

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