AS my children have grown up, they have got used to some idiosyncratic sayings from their mother.There is “oh sugar nuts” when an unexpected adverse development occurs. Something’s “totally fudged” when there’s really no hope of fixing it. At the end of a tough day at work I’m likely to declare myself “completely fracked” and slump on the couch with a gin and tonic.
Another oddity is “son of a Bichon Frise” when something really hurts
Of course, all these peculiar sayings are substitutes for profanity. Both I and my spouse are perfectly capable of swearing, but whatever the circumstances, there are some words we really don’t want our young children to hear.
The problem is, no matter how good you are, or at least try to be, escaping swearing is pretty hard in this day and age. Profanity seems ubiquitous – on television, in the workplace, in popular culture – especially music videos.
Some of the worst offenders are popular singers and bands, something I never really thought about until I had kids. Certain artists I used to love before we had kids I’ve have had to ditch because I’ve belatedly realised they were singing about quite inappropriate things.
Parents seem to have a variety of ways of dealing with swearing, some just give up the fight and let their kids go for it, some try to enforce a strict no swearing policy, while others try to teach what might be called “appropriate swearing”.
I’ve tended to favour an absolute ban at home with inoffensive if idiosyncratic substitutes serving as parental safety valves in times of stress but, as my children have got older, I’ve realised this is not very workable and maybe not even fair for them not to know what a real swear word is or means.
Not that my guys are fighting me on it yet. My eight-year-old daughter calls them “square words” and says they are “very uncool”, but they are being exposed daily, including in the playground, to more and more words that they know are bad but really don’t understand.
Some kids think it is smart or cool to swear, that it makes them more grown up and no doubt this is encouraged by much media and popular culture.
Parents, of course, freak out because socially what comes out of their children’s mouths is often seen as a reflection of them.
I’ve tried to steer my kids towards inoffensive swearing, challenging them to come up with harmless alternatives. This probably seems pretty dorky in the playground.
Ultimately, though, I’m not too worried as our kids have been growing up to be exceptionally polite and model citizens – most of the time. So maybe we’re doing something right, but I’m still not sure how to deal with profanity. Oh, bugger!