The daily travels with my pushchair around our local town centre give me an opportunity to indulge in people watching, one of my favourite pastimes.
Pre E I didn’t notice the many babies and toddlers being wheeled around the streets, their mums and/or dads blearily pushing them and mentally willing them to sleep. I also didn’t appreciate just how slow some people walk, usually in the centre of the pavement, oblivious to those of us who can longer just ‘hop off’ on to the street to get around them.
Anyway, during yesterday’s walk I was treated to a wonderful display of one of my pet hates – people who swear at their children. I’m no saint and do have a bit of a potty mouth which I am desperately trying to rinse out with copious amounts of soap and water, but I would never swear at my child.
Growing up, the strongest language I heard until I was around 10 was a terse ‘bloody hell’, usually uttered by mum, mostly directed at her sewing machine or cooker or, occasionally, if we pushed all the right buttons, my sister and I. TV and reading materials were carefully monitored to prevent any offending words reaching our sheltered minds and there was even an embargo on Eastenders in our house for a few weeks in the late 80s when someone said the word ‘bastard’.
Of course, then I hit secondary school and was treated to a new vocabulary, although if someone actually swore in class or within a 50m radius of a teacher, it would be met by an audible ‘gasp’ from those around. Fast forward a few years after that and pressures of work deadlines which usually involved situations out of my control, most sentences would involve swearing, a helpful ‘FFS’ capturing the mood beautifully.
So now, joined at the hip to my precious innocent baby son, I am ashamed of myself any time I swear. To me, swear words are designed to shock, a verbal slap. Not something I want him to experience or try to emulate.
Back to Ms Sweary McSweary from yesterday. She seemed to have no shame with the constant and loud stream of ‘effing and jeffing’ directed at her three young sons, the youngest just two years old. The kids didn’t bat an eyelid and just carried on with whatever it was that was annoying their mum.
If you grow up thinking swearing is an acceptable way of communicating with someone, what happens when the red mist descends and you want to hurt or shock someone or stop them in their tracks? My worry is that the stakes are raised and the words turn to actions.
I’m still a work in progress when it comes to censoring my language around E, but I am getting better. I’m not naive enough to think he won’t learn swear words at some point, but I’m determined to make sure he won’t learn them from me.