There’s a bit of an obsession about swearing in our house at the moment. Pip and Pop chat about it often. They express outrage about ‘boys using swear words in the yard’ and wonder aloud at ‘why people swear’.
A while ago, I wrote about my own history of cussing. Suffice to say that I do use inappropriate language at times, but generally know when, where and how to fucking employ it. Mac and I try not to swear in front of the kids, however the use of profanity is endemic in our society — whether we find it offensive or not isn’t the question. Children will hear it from all over the place. That’s effing life, bitch!
Last week, Pip asked her eldest cousin Mon why she thought people swore. Mon was really cool and casual in her answer (as a groovy cousin can be) and they discussed that perhaps it was because people got angry, sometimes they don’t know what else to say, and they just do!
When Pip’s cousins went home, Pop began her typical soliloquy about any topic that strikes her fancy on a particular day. She fired off 20 questions in succession, including ‘what punishment did you used to get when you swore? Why aren’t we allowed to swear all the time? Where did swearing come from (WTF?)? At what age can you say the worse swearwords? Why is swearing allowed in TV shows? And ‘What is the F-word?’
She’d asked about the F-word before. Being an educative, open and honest mumsy, I explained what the F-word entailed and that it wasn’t a word to use at age 7. I hadn’t really banned it at aged 7, but I hoped I’d left her with the impression that it wasn’t a suitable word to use with Grandma, at school, at church, in front of Grandpa, ever!
Seriously, she took this on board, and very gravely told me that she had used the SH-word occasionally.
‘And,’ said Pop, ‘I know another meaning for the SH-word. You know? Shit?’
Trying not to laugh, I asked Pop to tell me what else it meant, and she replied that ‘some people use it instead of … um … to say poo!’
When kids are animated and earnest like this, it’s a real struggle not to laugh out loud. My smile was quickly wiped off my face when Pip asked ‘is there other meanings for all swearwords, mum? Like you know? The F-word? What else does that mean, if the SH-word means poo?’
No wanting to chat about the other literal meanings for the F-word at that stage (regardless of being truthful and open), I decided to try and change the subject to … something else! Not successful. Both girls were then in my face, asking me why I wouldn’t tell them WHAT the worst word was — ‘the really bad C-Word’ — that the naughty kids only alluded to at school.
I wasn’t ready for that one. Being as honest as possible, I told them that I didn’t use the C-word, so there was no way I was saying it in order to tell them what it was. They moaned about it. ‘Oh mum!’ They evoked history. ‘But you said we could talk to you about anything!’ They employed reverse psychology. ‘I don’t really want to know. I’ll hear it in the yard, anyway.’ (Pip. Non-chronological teenager).
Eventually, the discussion about swearing stopped and both kids shut the fuck up. The next afternoon, Pip called out (in a dobbing voice) that Pop was swearing over a disagreement they were having in Mario Kart. ’She’s saying the C-Word, mum!’
I stalked from the kitchen to the other room, ready to rant at them for being silly about swearing and fighting on the holidays, when I heard Pop shouting. ’OH, MY CUTTER! THAT IS SO UNFAIR!’
Confused, I paused the wii and asked her what the f*ck she was saying!
‘You wouldn’t tell me what the C-word is, so I made up my own ‘C’ swearing,’ she declared, triumphantly. ’Cutter!’
Scratching my head as I walked from the room, I wondered where I had found those two kids. Then, I thought what Pop might say to me during her teen years. Maybe ‘up your cutter, mutter!?’