Teaching my child to swear…. sort of

There comes a time in a child’s life when they tentatively dip their toes into the adult world. For me it happened in the school playground, at the tender age of seven, and I felt so incredibly grown up.  I’d been at junior school for about a week and some nine year thug decided that he would demonstrate to the new kids, how we weren’t to mess with him. In his simian brain, he had reasoned that the best course of action he could take, to show us littlies how superior he was, would be to beat up one of the younger children. He had chosen his quarry with care. He obviously couldn’t pick on a girl; that would too obviously label him a bully, so he went for the next best thing. Me! Whilst it wouldn’t be quite true to say that I was effeminate, I did give it my best shot. I had several characteristics which did set me apart, and make me an obvious target for any prepubescent would-be hard men, chief amongst which was my habit of walking on my toes. Loudly announcing that I wanted to be a ballerina, to anyone who cared to listen (and plenty who didn’t), wasn’t the best way of blending into the background either, and it was also clear to anyone who spent more than about five minutes with me (and there were lots of children, and teachers who fell into that unfortunate category), that I was a complete wimp. All things considered I was a bully’s wet dream.

If you will indulge me, here is a brief aside, demonstrating that my schools day woes didn’t end at age seven. My wonderful surname (Longdon), with a strategically placed “G”, was also a jolly good laugh for pretty much everyone at my secondary school, except for my brother and I. (Despite the fact that it is blatant false advertising, as an adult, I feel as though I might have got the last laugh.) I’m sure that I would have endured a lot more unpleasantness were it not for the unfortunately named Wayne Kerr who was in my class. I know I thought that school was bad, but for him, the mind boggles! Never -the-less, on my last day of school (aged 18), I was still getting grief for that old chestnut. How I miss the best days of my life.

Not!

Anyway, I digress. One blustery September morning, in the playground outside of 2R, I was informed that I had committed some sort of infraction which would mean that I would be losing at least one of my (milk) teeth. You’ll be relieved to hear that no violence actually took place on that hallowed ground, largely because, at the threat of a beating I told him to get lost, and then started to cry!

In actual fact, I didn’t tell him to get lost. I used a much more colourful phrase which had been bandied about the playground. I used a word starting with F and ending with K (not firetruck before you ask) and followed that with off. And then I started crying.

Yes, I had used my first swear word, and aside from the sobbing and wailing, it made me feel pretty tough.

The reason I bring this up is because last week Fraboo decided that she wanted to learn some swears. Our new neighbours having a delightful, if rather loud conversation, extolling the virtues of the newest NZ rapper Fur Q, and his latest album Far Canal (or at least that’s what I think they were talking about). This was a conversation that I really didn’t want the kids to hear (we only listen to Rock Music in my house), and so we went inside.

Later on Fraboo asked Mrs L. why they couldn’t play in the garden. Mrs L. patiently explained that they were using bad words. “Do you mean that they were swearing?” our innocent six year old asked. Mrs L. confirmed that yes they had been.  She then inquired if we could tell her some swear words.

After some consideration, Mrs L. and I decided that, at six years old she could be taught a few profanities, and so last week, the three of us sat down to talk about foul language, and some of the more revolting words there are.

Before you report me to the Society for the Prevention of Profanity by Minors (I’m sure such an organisation exists somewhere), perhaps I ought to explain, that rather offering her carte blanche of the Oxford English Dictionary (street edition), we provided her with a few choice morsels.

We made a big deal of the event, sitting her down, and explaining to her that we were only imparting this knowledge to her, as we thought she was grown up enough to know these words and that she was trusted to never ever use them. It was almost possible to see her swelling with pride and she was clearly excited to be permitted this honour.

We explained to her that there were different levels of swearing, and that we wouldn’t be telling her the really rude words today, as you have to be really grown up to know them. Some of the words we would tell her were pretty bad, but we would start with the least offensive and work our way up so to speak.

So here we go; I shall now present a complete and unabridged dictionary (including definitions according to me) of Fraboo’s coarse language. You are presented with these words in the same order she was; with the least offensive first, building to a crescendo of utter vulgarity. If you are of a (really really) sensitive disposition, you may want to look away now, or you maybe not, I’ll let you decide

Rats:  Although this is a rather revolting word, it is the least offensive on the list. It is used as an exclamation or curse when surprised, as in “Oh Rats!!! I’ve hit my thumb with the hammer!”

Nuts: With this one we’ve upped the ante, it is considerably ruder and is to be used in similar circumstances to the previous word. Fraboo has really taken this one to heart; I have heard her using it on two separate occasions, one when her Lego wouldn’t go together, and later, one when admiring the coming harvest from our Macadamia tree. On both occasions a lengthy visit to the naughty corner had to be administered.

Moggins Boggins: The origins of this little couplet, is shrouded in mystery, gaining popularity (or should that be infamy), in a small enclave of South East Kent in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It use is equally murky, and it is without doubt, one of the most dastardly phrases one can utter. It is safest left unsaid.

Crap: For Fraboo, this is currently considered the vilest of terms. It refers of cause to faecal matter, and can be used in a similar fashion to both rats and nuts, but as yet I have yet to hear her say it.

Perhaps this little episode has been an error on our part, but it has satisfied both her curiosity and our desire to protect her innocence.

I ought to point out that this is not Fraboo’s true introduction to foul language. Several years ago, when Fraboo was a two year old only child, Mrs L. had left her handbag on the floor. Unfortunately one of the straps had got caught under a door. I spent several minutes trying to gently tease the strap out from beneath its captor. Rather predictably, this soon degenerated into an expression of my not inconsiderable strength (I can bench press in excess of 7 kilos!), and some vigourous puling on the bag, and then the door took place. Throughout this I thought that I was alone in the living room with Fraboo playing with Mrs L. in her bedroom. Sadly I was mistaken. I gave one final, exasperated tug on the bag (Enormous Turnip style) which released the bag (from the door’s evil clutches), but unfortunately, pulled the door into my head with a fair amount of force. As you can imagine, I was less than impressed and told the bag how displeased I was with it, with gratuitous use of a particularly unpleasant expletive. It was then that I heard a little voice next to me say “That’s right Daddy. Fubbing bag.” Oh the shame.

One thought on “Teaching my child to swear…. sort of

  1. Good article Ross. I never knew about the “Longdon” nickname – I can think of (and had) worse. I approve of your swear words. At 6 Libby came home and announced that a friend of hers knew the F word. “Which one?” we inquired. Turned out she was maneuvering for us to tell her what it was (and her friend didn’t know the good one either). Mind you, it only took 5 minutes of hanging around the playground at school to realize that her innocent days were numbered since there are a lot of sweary bastards on the playground. I’ve somehow managed to contain most of my swears since I had kids, which surprises me no end because I’m a foul mouthed ….
    See you next Tuesday,

    Chris

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