our house has a swear jar. anyone caught using swears (e.g. damn, shit) or even simple potty words, sometimes called bathroom words, (e.g. penis, butt, nummers) may be called out and penalized. i know many homes with growing children employ this tactic to bring awareness to the use of such words, attempting to make their children more aware of their place in the vocabulary/society. our operation has the slight twist to typical installments in that bella began and governs our swear jar. what drove bella to this drastic, even if unoriginal (unless your qualify a child starting it), response is she is the last one in our house to giggle at creatively blended strings of potty words or lavishly crafted scenarios about bathroom happenings by her two younger brothers ... or her father ... and even sometimes her mother.
many a night bella has sat at the dinner table appalled at her brothers conversation and hysterical laughing at some extra-juvenile story. when she looks to me to correct and scold the boys, she may find me laughing right along side or even congratulating one of their boys for their detailed recounting. extra-exasperated she turns to her gender-comrade in arms only to find her with her head bowed and a hand covering her face trying to hide her laughter. in one of these moments bella, with all but a fist slamming on the table, called our behavior outrageous, and wholly embarrassing, and what if she had a friend over, and then she declared that going forward, people caught using such words, especially at our family dinner table, would have to pay a penalty, the amount to be determined by the offended party. i broke the unusually long post-proclamation silence (in an equally unoriginal move) by pledging five dollars to this swear jar and told bella to see my people when the balance was exhausted. more hysterics. while she didn't appreciate the added laughter she was quick and glad to accept her foundation's first funds.
it time, and after seeing she intended on enforcing her policy, after she'd announce something like, "ok alex. you owe the swear jar seventy five cents for that story" i came to the aid of my family. using my paternal authority, i proclaimed an amendment to the swear jar mandate. it was this: if the person telling the story can make bella laugh while using an offending word, the teller doesn't have to pay the fine. at first bella said fine because she would not laugh at such childish attempts at humor. but what she didn't prepare herself for was how the tales and descriptions would grow, as a desperate storyteller fought to get bella to crack a smile. the details became wild and grandiose and the imitations of sounds and shrieks became remarkably believable and piercing. this extra effort has saved the accused many a coin as for all bella's propriety and blossoming maturity, she too is a storyteller at heart and can't help but appreciate a good and spirited yarn full of juicy words and pulsing images.