Thursday, 1 September 2011


It may be an international language, and I can certainly eff and jeff with the best of them when the mood takes me, but I do have my limits.

The line I won’t cross is this: I don’t swear in front of my mum and dad, and I don’t swear in front of my kids. Apart from when I do the odd monumentally stupid thing like dropping my car keys down a drain, obviously.

Now, I’m not an idiot. I know that my daughter encounters some fruity bon mots when out in the big wide world - say, for example, on the Special School bus packed with older kids with various levels of emotional and learning difficulties. But I take pride in the fact that she doesn't repeat them. 

Or so I thought.

Child Two (nicknamed Cato, for his interest in suddenly jumping on people in the manner of Peter Sellers’ trained surprise assassin in the Pink Panther films) was having a particularly boisterous day. And after one too many instances of him leaping on her and wrestling while she was trying to read, my daughter’s patience snapped.

Sitting over the other side of the room, out of view, I heard her utter the following phrase, perfectly enunciated, perfectly stressed, and, grudgingly, I have to admit it, perfectly sworn:

“Oh for F**K’S sake!”

I nearly fell off my chair. Spotting my husband’s shoulders go up and down as he tried not to laugh at the utterly bizarre sound of our sweet daughter somehow managing to swear brilliantly in context, I fled the room, in order to compose myself, covering my parental duties by saying, as I went: “You are in so much trouble, young lady. I’m so angry I can’t talk to you about it until I’ve calmed down.”

By the time I’d swallowed my giggles and returned, my uncharacteristically potty-mouthed daughter was in floods of tears. Before I could utter a word, she turned to me, looking stricken. “I swore Mummy,” she sobbed. Then confusion and panic set in. “Did I swear? I didn’t swear, did I? I did. I did swear.”

I then watched, in a kind of awestuck amazement, as my contrite child, so mortified by her own use of a really bad word, proceeded to tell me she should not be allowed to go to Guides that night, and then concluded her guilt-ridden, self-inflicted punishment by sending herself to bed.

Video is Super Furry Animals - The International Language Of Screaming


  1. I tought Number One Son* to swear; that is, swearing in context. He, like me, knows that nobody listens to you when you're having a rant where every other word begins with an f, b or c. But if you drop one f-bomb (and it only needs to be one, subtly placed) you invariably hold court.

    * He's now 21

  2. Never swear in front of grannies or teachers, I was told as a child and it worked for a while.

  3. Extremely good advice. (Referring to it as the f-bomb always makes me chuckle, too).
    In my case, I've never heard my mum or dad swear, so I suppose the habit of keeping it clean in front of the children is ingrained in me. If you met me in the pub, you'd never believe it.

  4. Our neighbour's nipper who could be a bit of a handful, was once found by his mum sitting on the stairs. He'd sent himself to the Naughty Step before his parents did. I never found out what he'd been up to though.

    You've got a similar limit to me D. I never swore near my parents, but will in front of (or occasionally at) the kids - but never above 'Sh' level as we say..effing, jeffing and C-bombs are strictly off limits in family groupings. Having a teen though, potty-mouth lingo seems to be a badge of honour on Facebook entries - but we monitor and cap/finger wag/embarrass him when necessary