Sunday, October 4, 2009

The F word...

Jane was making lunch as I worked in my study on Friday. 'What are we having?' I asked. Just some ham and pickles. 'That's nice, isn't it,' I called to Dylan, who was at home because of a Teacher Development day. 'Oh, I don't know,' he sighed from the dining room next door, 'It's all fuck fucky fuck!'

There was moment's silence; my fingers stopped typing as I sat back to consider his reply. Jane, who is less contemplative about these things, came storming in from the kitchen. 'Who told you THAT word? It's a VERY naughty word.' You can imagine what followed.

Evidently he'd heard it at school - or so he says. Someone taught him it, but he's not sure who. Jane left him in no doubt that regardless of where he'd heard it, if he wanted tea, TV or indeed any sort of niceness he's better not use THAT word again. He's been at school a month, she moaned, and look what happens. At least Dan and Mike took about a year!

I tried a little diplomacy. After all he has no idea what the word means - and to be honest his Dad's pretty free with the odd 'fuck it' and worse when things go wrong. 'We're having none of your clever stuff, over this,' said Jane. 'If his teachers hear him speak like that, he'll be in big trouble. And in any case it's rude and uncouth.' I've learned when it's best not to argue a philosophical point.

All was soon smoothed over,the incident put down to a one-off. Until early on Saturday morning, when Mike was winding him up in a big brotherish sort of way. 'Stop being a fucker,' Dylan shouted from his bedroom. I turned over and looked at Jane...

Five minutes later Dylan was in no doubt at all about the F word and it's multi-variants. There would be no beach today, and no ice cream -there was even talk of soap and the washing of mouths. I stayed out of it, silently suppressing a smile at the accuracy of his comment to Mike. After all, he was being a nasty... brother. I doubt we will hear the F word again though, at least not for a few years.

Some parents get very wound up over swearing. I've seen mothers demanding to see the teacher, speak to the the Head, squaring up to other mums in the playground -on one occasion swearing so liberally it was fairly obvious where the bad influence might have come from. I'm more relaxed; it's a phase kids go through and usually a few tellings off will sort it. If they knew what they were saying it might be different, but frankly, Dylan could just as easily have said 'Tickety boo boo boobies'.

Jane wouldn't like that either. And neither would I, for though I might be bit less outraged than her at the F word, I basically agree: swearing is rude and uncouth -and somehow particularly so in children. Jane almost never swears and we none of us would in everyday speech. If I occasionally let fly, it's through anger or a stubbed toe - come on, everyone swears when they stub a toe, don't they? As my Mum would say, it's common.

I think the the subtleties of language are best left to adults; as far as Dylan is concerned it's a case of do as I say, not as I do. Which he's generally taken to heart - certainly he was repentant yesterday. And in the afternoon, as we gathered for some tea, he sat in his chair uncommonly silent - before letting off a long, and I have to say melodious, fart! Jane stared daggers at him as the three of us bigger boys suppressed our giggles. He looked at each of us in turn...

'Pardon me,' he said.


  1. My father used to say that abuse could be a creative exercise, but that swearing was just derivative...with you on the stubbed toe, but also have to admit to the wrong button on the computer,reception of news that a uninvited visitor has arrived just when the Test Match is finishing and a couple of others. I shall go off in search of the soap...

  2. Sorry, but this made me laugh (especially the fart at the end). We don't make a fuss about swearing, beyond explaining that it's a rude word and some people don't like it. It hasn't been used since, but my kids do recognise it as an adjective used by a stressed parent, particularly when terrified by an idiot lorry driver help bent on family-cide.

  3. I am dreading this stage, but will be blaming his grandfather if Ihear the utterance of such a word.

  4. I have heard just about everything and my kids, fortunately, got it if they uttered foul language in the house. Outside it was tolerated depending on what was said. Now, they are in their 50s and say anything they want. I guess it is the thing to do. Cuss.

  5. my wife works at a primary schooland only last week overheard a mum effing and blinding about the grid lock to get out of the carpark...said mum..teacher at George Ward school....mmmmm

  6. No doubt my two boys issued the odd swear word now and then when they were young, but wisely never within earshot of their mother. Not that I have never used swear words myself, even though I keep remembering someone saying that swearing was only used by people who lacked the intelligence to use proper language... or something along those lines. I too laughed at the end, though at the Pardon Me bit...

  7. I very very rarely swear. Chris, on the other hand, has been known to turn the air blue with his expletives!! He uses it as a way of venting his frustration but it doesn't happen often and he would never do it in the presence of kids.

    C x

  8. I suppose it must be so tempting for kids when they know something is 'naughty' to want to tempt fate over and over again. I seldom swear but now and then it just feels right. I do like old-fashioned words though and some of these expletives are as old as they come.

  9. Yes...I suppose I'd be shocked if my children did it. I try so hard not to swear in front of them...the odd word does come out (under duress) and so far, touch wood, they haven't repeated them. It is probably a matter of time.
    I think children do try out words and phrases especially when they are "new" ones. I said "hard cheese" to my son this morning and both children giggled as they had not heard the phrase before. They went around maniacally repeating it.

    I loved Alan Clark's wife (he of the diaries)..called him a SHoneT. (And she still loved him despite himself.) I love playing around with words and sometimes good old Anglo Saxon swear words are just the ticket!

  10. I did not actually love Alan Clark's wife...

    I meant to say "I love that Alan Clark's wife called him a ....!"

  11. My kids occasionally say "shit", and i general let it fly if it's used appropriately (as in to express extreme annoyance or the like) and not in public. I feel I'd be hypocritical if I didn't.

    In our house the forbidden words are things like"stupid" and "idiot" as there is a lot more malice behind those sentiments than a simple "Oh Bollocks!"

  12. Loved this. Just posted about it on Alpha Mummy.

  13. It's terrible what they learn from school isn't it! My sister's in for a shock soon when her little angel starts using words she's never used before after starting school. And she won't have heard it from my daughter either!!

    CJ xx

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