The Wildebeest In The Room: A Story of Profanity


The man I fell in love with is smart, handsome and loving… But at the time that Savannah was born, he could hardly finish a sentence without some sort of profanity in there.

Not only did I not want Savannah to speak like that, but I’d actually read a horror story about a kid getting kicked out of preschool for inappropriate language. So, what’s the solution—ear muffs for our daughter? Nagging my husband after every sentence with, “Watch your language”, in my most annoying, whiny voice? Or let our toddler drop f-bombs with her friends? Sigh.

We did something different.

We looked to an inside joke.   On one of the first weekends after Josh and I had started dating, my team at work was doing a data migration, and I had to break from my date with him several times to join conference calls. But despite all of the calls, there were always a few kinks left, after a migration. Josh jokingly explained this, saying, “Not every wildebeest survives the migration”, and he made an inhaling roar sound that was supposed to be a wildebeest on a migration. We both laughed and the wildebeest became an inside joke.

In future years, every time someone said “migration”, Josh would make the inhaling wildebeest roar, and we would laugh.

So once Savannah was born, and it was time to strategize on how to stop the swearing, I looked to the wildebeest.

I told him it would be our code word. If I caught him swearing in front of her, I’d say “wildebeest”.

In the beginning, there were a lot of wildebeests. But when I called “wildebeest” on him, he answered with his roar, and we laughed. It was actually somewhat fun—like a drinking game.

Slowly, over time though, there were fewer and fewer wildebeests. It was amazing!

So we introduced the wildebeest to friends and family who weren’t used to keeping their language clean around little ones.

Somewhat surprisingly, it was good for a laugh with them too. My brother even called “wildebeest” on himself when he accidentally slipped. Ha!

Now, with Savannah at 20-months-old (and repeating everything she hears), I’m so proud to say that we don’t see a lot of wildebeests around here.

I kind of love and miss the wildebeest though. It was probably one of the most fun and easiest solutions we’ve had to a parenting challenge.

So, I’d suggest there should more wildebeests in the world. No thanks, not the F-bombs in our living room. But, I’d love to have more laughs to solve nagging problems.

I declare this week, “Wildebeest Appreciation Week”. If you like it then you can swear like a sailor—but not around my daughter—and your friends can call you out. Of course that won’t stick. But, we’ll be appreciating you from our home, you furry, horned, wildebeests of the jungle.

The wildebeest will stay a dear friend in our home. My daughter can do a rocking wildebeest roar. And to my husband, I wildebeest-ing love you.



-          –          -

If you enjoyed this story, you can follow Mama Lovejoy by liking my Facebook page.


Leave a Reply