“Mummy, do you know what the ‘F-word’ is?”
My eyebrows shot up to my hairline today, as I stared at Master Six in terror.
Oh dear, here it comes…
“Yes, I do… The question is, young man, do YOU?”
“Yes. Do you want me to tell you?”
“Yes, but because we NEVER say that word in this house, maybe you should spell it out for me.”
“Oh okay, this is an easy one…”
Now, I’ll break this story here to tell you that the last time this happened, a year ago, the ending was quite different and it went a little like this…
“Mummy, Roberta in my class told us that she knew a very bad word that started with ‘F’ today!”
Uh oh, first week of Prep and already it starts, I think.
“Oh, really darling? What did she say?” steeling myself.
“Well, when we all went over to her to find out what the word was, she got really scared, and wouldn’t tell us.”
Can’t you just imagine this little 5 year old getting the fear when 21 excited little Preppies crowd around her waiting for the first bite of this forbidden fruit?!
“Oh well, it probably doesn’t matter, my love, because you aren’t allowed to say it anyway.”
Phew, I thought,breathe, Mummy, breathe.
“Oh, no, it’s okay. She told us later, in the playground.”
Oh nooooo! Here it comes…
“It was FART!”
Of course, I very nearly wet myself with relief, while the little fellow laughed himself to hiccups at the fun of replacing our family word ‘Fluffy’ with the real live naughty version.
Suffice to say I’ve been waiting for this moment since orientation day at Kindy, when all I could hear being bandied around the playground was “Hey Poo-Poo Head!” and “See ya later, Stinky Fluffy Bum!” I could feel it in my waters that at least one child in the crowd would know how to swear and would delight in teaching everyone else how to do it too. I just hoped it wasn’t going to be mine.
I grew up in a community where swearing was absolutely taboo in Primary School. I’d never heard any adult other than my mother swear, and all my friends thought she was the coolest mum on the planet just because she said ‘bloody hell’ and her personal favourite when everything went wrong, “shit, poop and cack.” She made it very clear, however, that these were not words for her children to use, so we didn’t.
High school was a little different, and I soon learned the joys of swearing thanks to the many colourful and fantastic personalities at my new school. A magic lockdown occurred at the front gate of my house whereby all rude words gracefully slipped out of my vocabulary when I came home, only to reappear on the train first thing the next day. Quite a fascinating phenomenon!
I don’t know why I’m such a prude about it with my own kids. I still absolutely love to swear. The freedom and release when certain words come out of my mouth can be quite exhilarating, but I just don’t get to do it that much these days. That same magical lockdown comes back into play when you have children of your own, and you suddenly find yourself saying, “Oh shivers!” and “Oh, fu goodness sake!” instead of the old favourites.
I think it’s just that I don’t want to be the one who gets the phone call from school, or gets ‘the chat’ from another parent whose dearest sweetheart has had their innocence torn away from them because of my child. One time as a social pariah because of my children was enough.
We’d been playing ‘getting married’ at home one rainy afternoon, and I’d played the part of the celebrant, while my pigeon pair walked down the aisle and pledged their troth to one another. When the wedding waltz was over, and the game was packed up, I was interested to hear that brother and sister actually did believe they would marry each other when they were grownups.
Flippantly, I said the first thing that came into my head that I thought would turn them off that concept forever. “You can’t marry each other, you know. It’s not allowed. If brothers and sisters get married, they have babies with two heads.”
And that was the end of that little daydream! No further discussion, but a lot of fertiliser was dumped onto two imaginative children that day. So much so that I nearly had to leave town when a school grandmother approached me in the park one day after school…
“Hello Caylie, how are you?” eyeballing me in a way that made me feel very uncomfortable.
“I’m very well, Pat, how are you?” wondering what I had done wrong for this retired teacher to be so super-polite to me.
“I’m well, thank you for asking. You know, a funny thing happened in church yesterday I thought you might find amusing.”
“Oh, really?” Heart racing now, knowing I was about to get in a lot of trouble for that big mouth of mine.
“Well, yes, actually. When our family priest was telling everyone in his congregation about the sanctity of marriage, he mentioned a long list of who one was not allowed to marry. You remember, don’t you, ‘Thou shalt not marry thy sister’s brother’ etc.?”
Ahem. “Yes, I remember.”
“Well, my beautiful three year old grand-daughter took it upon herself to stand up on her chair at that point and call out to the entire congregation, ‘IF YOU MARRY YOUR BROTHER, YOU WILL HAVE BABIES WITH TWO HEADS!!!'”
Oh shit, poop and cack.
“Oh, how cute is that! I wonder where she got that idea from? Kids say the funniest things, don’t they Pat? Oh, fu goodness sake! Is that the time? We’re late for swimming lessons! Great to chat, let’s do it again sometime!”
And I raced away, filled with shame and horror at my own words being gently poured all over me by this lovely Christian granny.
So here we are again, at my day of reckoning, back at our kitchen table where Master Six was spelling out the F-Bomb, phonetically and quite obviously, correctly. He only missed the letter ‘k’, which of course, I pointed out to him so he can at least tell the other children in the playground how it’s really spelled. Honestly, what is wrong with me?
After a little bit of discussion about the fact that a liberal amount of chilli sauce would be administered if that word was ever spoken out loud, we managed to move on to another topic, and I think I’ve been spared hearing it from his beautiful mouth for at least a few weeks yet.
His little sister, however, was apparently fascinated by the conversation, and was seen to be practising her letters a little later that morning, and can you believe it…
“What does F C U K spell?”
A nurse and counsellor by trade, Caylie Jeffery has had many adventures and experiences that have made her into a strong, independent, and interested woman. Being a mindful parent in a world that loves to turn children into mindless robots is her biggest challenge yet, and she is determined to instil passion about life, books, art and people into their hearts and minds.
Caylie has a blog where she writes familiar essays about subjects that catch her breath. She is establishing herself as a freelance writer, and is an emerging author of children’s stories, teen adventures and creative adult non-fiction.