I remember the days when my kids laughed uncontrollably about poo and wee. These words were so funny and naughty.
Then there was the time when one of them said ‘fuck’ and I seized up and asked why they used that word. They didn’t know, but realised it was a no no. It was not repeated in our house for a lot of years.
I once pulled out of our village on to the major ‘A’ road between the local market towns and managed to stall the car mid carriageway; I am a rubbish driver. My reactionary vocabulary included the words ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ and other words that I was unaware I could use so naturally. My kids were sitting in the back of the car, on their way to their weekly swimming lesson. and said nothing. I got the car started and pulled us away from imminent danger, my claims not to be a sweary momma in tatters.
I have this quote in my head, that foul language shows a lack of knowledge of interesting vocabulary. I even had an online discussion about this with a highly intelligent friend who had studied English at the best university in the world and disagreed with me. Nothing teaches like experience.
Living in a house with three teenagers (okay, number three won’t get there for a couple of weeks yet, but he is practising hard) I am learning about modern life as much as I ever did at school or university. Language was created to allow us to communicate. There are polite and offensive words, but I can no longer classify any of them as unusable. Neither can I agree with some of my friends that we should be banning our children from uttering them.
I want my children to relax and be themselves when they are at home. I want them to feel that they can make informed choices and not be condemned; that they can be whatever they choose to be. If they do not conform to the model that I was brought up to believe was the correct way to behave then I would like to be given the opportunity to consider the changing world in which they will need to survive. I would like to be given the option to change my views based on previously unconsidered evidence.
The language that we use to communicate allows us to understand others, and them to understand us. We need to be aware that how we express ourselves will be used to judge us. Language must be adapted to circumstance but none needs to be banned, especially in the home. I would rather understand the full extent of my children’s lexicon and the feelings they express than have them constrained by some perceived need to treat me as too sensitive to hear what they really wish to say.
I am the grown up. I have heard all of these words before; I even use them from time to time. This does not make me, or my kids, bad people.