George Carlin used to say that “shoot” was just “sh*t” spelled with two O’s . . . and, in my experience, when I have used that expression or heard others use that expression, they have lengthen the word to include the letter “o” times two. When people use the expression . . . such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid jumping off a cliff to avoid the advancing posse, they are using George Carlin’s understanding of the phrase more often than not. I know because I am speaking from personal experience. If I utter the phrase, “Oh, shoot” . . . it could easily be translated to “Oh, sh*t!”
Recently my seventeen month old granddaughter . . . the purest of all children . . . has begun uttering the phrase, “Oh, shoot!” Of course, in my opinion, it is the cutest thing in the world. According to the daughter and son-in-law she just started doing it, and they are not sure where she picked that phrase up from. I can assure you that it was not me.
Now I am not going to proclaim that because I am a minister that I have a “holier than anyone else” attitude . . . nor will I claim that I would not swear. I was raised on military bases . . . the bastion of swearing . . . and, I picked up a healthy array of swearing . . . I can swear with the best of them; but, I did not teach my granddaughter how to paraphrase a swear phrase.
Granted, I have taught my granddaughter a lot of things that her parents are not yet sure they appreciate. I have her how to lick a finger, put it on another person, and go, “Ssssssssssssss.” Then I tell her she is “hot” . . . she particularly likes to do that to her father and grandpa (me). I have taught her how to say “whoa” . . . we are working on the “whoa, dude” part now. But, I have never taught her to say, “Oh, shoot!”
As a grandparent I have invoked my right to be myself around my granddaughter . . . for the most part. That is the privilege of being a grandparent . . . you get to be yourself . . . for better or for worse. At least that is how my daughter and son-in-law see it . . . I think they cringe whenever “grandpa” gets the granddaughter . . . what is he going to teach her this time! I assure you that I pretty well keep it on the more conservative side. Because of that, I can assure you that I did not teach my granddaughter, as cute as it is, to say, “Oh, shoot!” Besides, that is too much work . . . if you are going to say it, say it right! I guess if she picks up that phrase, I will have to claim that it is my fault.
Thankfully, I have not been blamed for the newly found phrase in my granddaughter’s limited vocabulary. The daughter and son-in-law are looking at other relatives to blame. As much of a relieve that that is, I am sure that I am going to get more than my fair share of credit for the unsavory vocabulary and habits of my grandchildren through the years . . . that is a grandparent’s pride and joy . . . teaching our grandchildren the things their parents don’t want them to know. Better a family member than some stranger on the street!
If my granddaughter begins to use sign language—in particular the Hawaiian sign for “good luck”—while in the car . . . that was probably me. If she starts using sarcasm . . . that was probably me. If she begins to call Box Elder bugs “democrats” . . . that was probably me. If she starts rooting for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, yelling, “Go Big Red” . . . that was probably me and a couple of uncles and her mother. If she starts rolling her eyes while other people are talking . . . me. As much as I would like to take credit in the future for the phrase of “You betcha” . . . that is most of Montana. The bottom line is that the little squirt is going to pick up things from her grandpa . . . that is the joy of being related to an old coot!
So . . . I want to apologize to my daughter and her wonderful husband now. I want to apologize for anything that I might rub off on my granddaughter that might be embarrassing to them in a public place . . . especially if she learns the actual terms instead of the Carlin versions of the words. C’est la vie . . . that is what the old folks say. Such is the circle of life . . . it all goes round and round. My parents survived it . . . the wife and I survived it . . . and, so will my daughter and son-in-law. The granddaughter will too.
Bonding with a grandchild takes many forms . . . there are many forms of connecting between a grandchild and a grandparent. Some are in actions that are imitated, others are in the words that are mimicked . . . all are grounded in love. Love is the key. I do not think that any grandparent sets out to corrupt his or her grandchild . . . no, I just think that links are formed in the strangest places between the young and the old. It is the link that matters . . .
Years from now, I am certain, that my granddaughter will utter the phrase, “Oh, shoot”, and she will remember . . . she will remember the laughter . . . she will remember the smiles . . . and, she will remember the person from which she learned that phrase. That, my friends, is what matters the most. I did not teach my granddaughter to paraphrase swearing . . . but, I did teach her to love. The greatest form of love is imitation . . . oh, shoot . . . I mean, oh sh*t . . . there is a tear in my eyes! I sure do love that little shoot!