My Shrekky Twenties

I always try not to swear around Tom. I would definitely never say the eff word in front of him. Mum works with young children and says there’s nothing worse than a small child coming out with an expletive they’ve obviously heard at home. I quite agree, but sometimes it is difficult to get through life without swearing. This was a particular problem when Tom was a baby. Getting out of the house having got yourself and a baby ready is quite a challenge. (Nowadays, Tom can dress himself and choose his own outfits, which is always fun, given the fact he thinks co-ordinating means dressing from head-to-toe in the same colour.)  It’s even worse when you have public transport to catch. I was forever clattering down the staircase of our local train station, Tom screaming in his buggy, the changing bag flapping against my feet, saying a breathless “shit” for every one of the 31 steps.

Tom hadn’t been at his lovely private day nursery long when he picked up on it.  I was strapping him into his buggy at hometime, when he chucked a toy on the floor and shouted  “Oh dear!”

“He’s always doing that,” I said to the nursery boss, “Throwing things deliberately, pretending it’s an accident and saying ‘oh dear.'”

“It’s not just ‘oh dear’ he says though, is it?” said the Nursery Boss.

“Oh?” I was genuinely oblivious.

“Yes, we have noticed him saying s-h-i-t a few times.”

I was mortified, but made a conscious effort to stop and happily, seemed to nip it in the bud.

Fast forward two years, and I admit to getting a bit lackadaisical. I vaguely remember saying “shit” in front of Tom a few weeks ago and quickly telling him that it was a naughty word he must never, ever repeat and that I was extremely bad for saying it. Thankfully, he’s got a good memory and you only have to tell him something once. I do try not to swear unless there’s an absolute emergency, but I am only human.

I was talking to my neighbour last night when I slipped up and said ‘shit’.

“Mum!” said Tom, “That is a very naughty word.”

“Yes Tom, you’re absolutely right. It’s a really bad word and I shouldn’t ever ever say it.”

“Why can’t you use one of those other words you’ve got instead?”

“What words?”

“You know: fiddlesticks, crumbs, sugar butties.”

Ah yes. I didn’t realise he’d picked up on those.

“Or Mum, instead of that one you just said, how about ‘Shrek’? It still starts with’ sh’ but it isn’t a bad word.”

Great idea.

“Why did I swear again?” I asked my neighbour. “There was a very good reason, I know that.”

“You realised Bestival clashes with his first day at his new school.”

“Bollocks, yeah, that means I can’t go really can – ” Oops.

The Bestival business is not a real emergency. It’s a bit crumbs, but worse things happen at sea. I need to get better at this. If I do mess up though, I’ve always got my walking, talking swear word thesaurus to give me a good bollocking.


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5 responses to “My Shrekky Twenties

  1. The words that must not be spoken tend to slip out when I’m driving with Harv – obviously, everyone but me is a rubbish driver 🙂 But, his musical tastes have started to cause me concern. He’s 9, so knows what words can and cannot be used – which makes it interesting when he’s singining merrily along to his current obsession: Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons. We now have a ‘Dad Edit’ which involves me shouting ‘Mucked’ really loudly in the right places. here – have a go, it’s fun:

  2. Sam

    Good post, I can imagine how difficult it is to try and not use words that just slip out automatically. I swear a lot, which I argue is caused by English not being my first language – it just doesn’t sound “real” to me when I speak it.

    I honestly believe that treating other people with respect and not talking bad about them – whether swear words are used or not – is more important than simply not swearing. Just because someone doesn’t swear doesn’t mean they can’t be a horrible person anyway. (If you remove all the swear words from my blog, I’m still nasty and miserable :D)

    It’s great to make an effort to not use these words at home, but I suppose as soon as other children in school, TV, internet etc get involved, there’s no stopping it.

  3. verrymerry

    I don’t have kids but my mum used to swear like a trooper in front of me and I’m no worse off for it! I did get in trouble with my nan loads (why did SHE always manage to catch me repeating them?) but thankfully I had the sense never to say it in public… I’m sure when I have kids I’ll end up swearing in front of them too!

  4. Love it. Perfect timing because this morning when I handed Benjamin his cereal he said, “What the Hell is this?”

    Horrible, I know. Great post! Love your writing, as always you are amazing.

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