Writing left handed

All This to Avoid the “F” Word

bad dance students

I like to think I’m a good teacher.  I’m encouraging.  I’m patient—at least most of the time.  I lead by example and I challenge my students to think on their own.  But every once in a while, I’ll find myself standing in the studio lecturing my students and wondering “what the f*ck am I saying right now?”

Last Saturday was one of those times.

bad dance students

I was at the studio with 16 of my students for the first rehearsal of this year’s production number.  (Technically it’s a “Large Group Routine” and not an official “Production” because the latter requires at least 20 kids and I’m such a stickler about technique that I only selected 16 students at this year’s auditions but “Large Group Routine” is just such a mouthful, don’t you think?)

At any rate, we were plowing through the choreography: the intro, the first chorus, the horn solo; even the stop time section.  The girls were focused.  I only had to yell twice and by the end of the three-hour rehearsal, I was feeling pretty good about the routine, my abilities as an educator and the state of the world in general.

But then it happened.

The teenagers are dancing on a series of large, wooden boxes this year.  The biggest is nearly three feet high, and they’re arranged onstage in descending order, like a flight of steps.  After the intro, the girls have to step down from the boxes to join the rest of the dancers at the front of the stage but during this particular run of the piece, one of them forgot.  So what did the girl behind her do?  She pushed her—during a freaking dance rehearsal on a floor that’s so slippery I feel like I’m ice skating half the time.

“WHAT was that?” I bellowed, slamming my index finger against the CD player to silence the music.

The girls stopped dead in their tracks and stared guiltily at the floor.

“Was that an intelligent choice???” I demanded.  “You tell me: was that an INTELLIGENT choice?”

They were just fooling around, and nobody fell, but I was livid.  The girls in question are amongst my most advanced students—the ones who are supposed to be setting an example for the younger kids, not shoving one another—and after three hours it was all I could do to keep from shouting “What the f*ck is wrong with you???”

Except they’re my students.  So I had to stick with “Was that an intelligent choice?”

When I relayed the story to The Wedding Date, he burst out laughing and teased, “Ooh!  You sure told them!” But what was I supposed to say?

Frankly, I thought it was one of my better teacher moments.

So, for all of the teachers (and parents) out there: do you ever find yourself yelling complete and utter nonsense to avoid employing four-letter words?  And if so, any gems you’d like to share?

12 Responses to “All This to Avoid the “F” Word”

  1. Jenny Romalis Winters

    I taught for 21 years and was a school principal for 6 years…this was a problem! I came up with “freakin'” instead of the other F-bomb. They seemed to think that was a swear word too, so I kind of struck out.

  2. Katie

    I said “freakin'” for a while, then realized how ridiculous that sounded, so I went back to fuck. And this is why they don’t let me around children.

    Also, I love what you said. In fact, I think I’m going to start using that from now on. It’s the perfect amount of smart-ass, rhetorical condescension. We’re going to make this happen.

  3. Landlord

    You know my rule, after your own children are 13 and older its okay to say it 😉 I don’t know how I survived all those years before you and Tech Support were that age, I think I said it out of earshot, so don’t shatter my illusion if that is not the case.

    There is something visceral about f*ck, that even my middle aged-“dialog is important” me, enjoys about actually physically feeling that word leave my mouth. i don’t know if its the ck sound, because I too have tried friggin, or as you know a combination of nonsense, like, “christ on a crutch, jesus in a corn basket, etc.” and although those work sometimes, other times nothing relieves stress more than the classic “F” word. I don’t ever say it around other children, so I do have some self control, and as a teacher/leader/adviser/etc. that is unfortunately a job requirement ;(

    It may also have stemmed from having a mom who never swore, and my very small act of defiance. Yeah, I was a bad ass 😉

  4. Maia Simon

    When my daughter was in high school, her friends all thought I was cool because I would say ‘f*ck’ in appropriate circumstances and did not censor their language at my house.

    • Landlord

      So funny, when Kat was that age we had a crew come from Tennessee on 4H exchange and they just marveled at my 13 and over rule, “Mama did you know that it’s okay to cuss when you are 13?” LOL

  5. becky119

    I think the best was when I was a kid and my siblings and I were doing something or other that made my dad mad. His face was literally turning red and he yelled out “BREATH” rather than use a more inappropriate word. He is still teased today.

  6. petitepaumee

    I just said that word out loud at 6 PM at work on a Friday after a particularly vexing phone call with a conference speaker. My colleague on the other side of the cubicle slammed her palm on the desk and said “awesome”. Surprised, I tried to apologize. She countered that she thought I never cursed and was relieved to discover I was normal. It only took 4.5 months…

    I obviously don’t work around kids. I have no idea how I would stop myself sometimes.

  7. Wilma

    Sadly, no, but I’m not a teacher. The only kids I really come in contact with on a regular basis are my teenage sons, and there are moments when the f word just seems like the most appropriate thing to fill in the blank. Like the other day when I dropped my son, a senior, off at his high school, and an hour later received a call that he wasn’t in school and had called the office to say he was sick.

    My text message to him read, “Where the f#$% are you?”

    …but I didn’t bother to use the symbols.


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