12 May 2013

The S word

We're in the car listening to Blow me one last kiss by Pink, an annoyingly catchy track that sounds completely the opposite to the subject matter that is being covered (there's a name for this. Onomatepia? Nonomatepia?) Anyway, two people have broken up. They loved each other once but really hate each other now and it's all emotional and messy and heart breakingly sad, but the melody is inappropriately upbeat and joyful so the kids love singing along. They're just not sure what to do with the recurring line involving all the sh*t that the break up has caused. The CD has blanked it out, so we are trying to think of another word that will work.

We use poo dog in our house, but that doesn't fit.

In my buggy pushing days the streets surrounding our house had a fair amount of canine excrement. Jackson got mixed up when learning to say dog poo and transposed the 2 syllables and it's confused me ever since. In moments of impending squelchiness when a childs foot was about to make contact with a pile of dog faeces, adrenaline often caused me to forget the correct English term and our made up one so we developed the poo dog alarm instead, which was simpler and quicker. But only after a few incidents like this: 

We are walking home. The buggy wheels, buggy board wheels and up to four pairs of shoes are all making intermittent contact with the ground. We are travelling pack style in roughly the same direction, with slight varience in tragectory and large fluctuation in speed. At least one child is in full conversational flow about how puddles are made / who's been on the sad list today / what good and bad reasons there are for disturbing a sleeping parent, when I become aware that in about 2 second's time we have to negotiate 3 sets of wheels and four pairs of shoes through a path recently trodden by an incontinent dog watchyourfeet! I can't get the words out fast enough poodogthere! That's not right nodogpoo! Imeantdogpoo! No that's not right either poodog! poodog! Iwasrightfirsttime! Why are so many bits of us in contact with the ground?? slowdowntherespoodog! Decelerate, I repeat decelerate! Whoowhoowhoowhoo! Nicely avoided people! Thank you so much. I'm sooooo glad you're on my team.
And so we avoided the S word. In all senses of the S word. Repeatedly. However, at some point along the line the boys became aware of the S word, the F word and a few others I don't know about. I am naive, a bit like Madi who recently alluded to the L word.

Me: I don't know that one babe. What is it exactly?
Madi: I CAN'T tell you because then I'll have said it!
Me: Maybe it's not a bad word though. We can't think what it is.
Madi: It's... It's lost.
Me: Lost? (She nods vigorously, looking shocked) As in L.O.S.T? (More wide-eyed nodding) Why is that bad?
Madi: You know, like when people say 'Get lost'...
Me: That's not swearing babe. It's not very kind to say, but it's not swearing.
J: Yeah, it's not like the F word or the B word or anything. You know Coby sometimes says the F word and then he has to go and see Mrs Wakely. And once Harry said the S word by mistake. He was trying to say 'SHIRT' (Collapses into giggles)
Madi: (Looking confused) But I don't know ANY of those words!
J: (Touselling her hair) Ah Madi, that's a good thing! You don't want to know any of those words!

Which begs the question: Why are some words swearing when others are not?
• I don't know is the answer. They just are so we don't say them.

But why?
• Well I suppose people who don't know you make all sorts of assumptions about you and what kind of kid you are by what you say. And they might think you're horrible and rude without even getting to know you.

Which is pathetic really. But it's the first answer I thought of and is probably kind of true.

It has always confused me though. I don't know all the rules and have never bothered to investigate them. Which is why I use inappropriate language myself sometimes. (I have only recently found out what knackered denotes in this part of the country, but after it meaning very tired or malfunctioning for the last 40 years, I find it hard to accept it may mean something else). 

And language changes too, so what was shocking a generation ago is acceptable now. When I was a kid I wasn't allowed to say pee. Wee was OK (or better still wee-wee) but not pee. What's that about? One tiny little consonant and grandma gets really offended.

I'm a bit intrigued by hand gestures as well. Take the peace sign. That's cool. That's reaaallly great and if more people wanted it and made active moves towards it then maybe there would be less greed and hate and pointless warfare.

But keep your 2 fingers extended and rotate your wrist round 180 degrees and all of a sudden you've communicated to someone that not only do you NOT want peace, but you are zealously inviting disagreement and conflict.

I just find that plain weird. How can the one gesture mean 2 completely different things? That's an international diplomatic disaster just waiting to happen that is.

We had a rather unfortunate incident involving a misunderstood hand gesture and a childless ex-neighbour once. I can write this now as we've moved house so often you won't know who it is.

Childless ex-neighbour lived 2 doors away from us at the time. Childless ex-neighbour was also wife-less and pet-less but did have a car that he loved and polished for hours every Saturday, and a slope in front of his house down which our kids liked to whizz on skateboards and bikes. Childless ex-neighbour did not like children playing so close to his house and his shiny clean car, especially when children in question had a double driveway and space to play outside their own front door. However, childless ex-neighbour never communicated this to anyone, and as our driveway was flat and wheeled toys + slope = more speed, the kids played there LOTS. This was a problem but we didn't know it.

Eventually childless ex-neighbour got annoyed with children whizzing and riding and bickering among themselves in the vicinity of the shiny clean car and asked them to play somewhere else. Jackson responded in the way he normally does to a direct order with a verbal 'Right you are' accompanied by a Sid-Salute, a-la Ice Age 3.

It turns out that childless ex-neighbour had never seen Ice Age 3 and thought he was being insulted on his own front doorstep by a delinquent 7 year old.

The first I knew about it was the hoover dying on me and an ashen-faced Ethan telling me that Jackson was crying and childless ex-neighbour (who was at that point a current neighbour) wanted to talk to me.

We'd been in the house for four months by then and we'd never spoken. Oh dear. I passed a sobbing Jackson on the stairs and managed a hug and his snotty version of events before opening the door.

Childless ex-neighbour was very cross. Yes I know who you are. Your child did this. And then he did this. Ice Age? Sid the sloth? Well that means nothing to me. Rah rah rah and he walked off.

I chased after him. I made the following points in a calm manner. When he interrupted I let him spout off then chased after him some more to continue making them.
1: I'm sorry this is our FIRST conversation and it's gone like this (i.e. you never came over to welcome us to the street)
2: This has clearly been bothering you for a while. I wish you'd approached me sooner and we could have discussed this without shouting (although I'm not shouting- you are)
3: Our children shall avoid playing on the slope or anywhere near your car which is obviously very precious to you (Saddo... but each to their own)
4: I will speak to Jackson and tell him to keep his Sid Salute to members of his immediate family and friends only (i.e. You are neither)

We followed this up 2 days later with a home made card confirming our conversation on the doorstep and the request that he immediately broach any future issues should they arise. We all signed it- Madi even put kisses.

We then invited childless ex-neighbour to our house warming.

He never came, but he started to wave and say Hi in the street.

Then we moved house 5 months later and he officially became known as The man who doesn't know who Sid is. (And we NEVER mention the salu*e)...

1 comment:

  1. I remember being really confused about the concept of 'swearing' as a child. If someone accused someone else - "You swore!" - I'd think, eh?

    Personally wish I felt a bit more free to cuss and blind away. It can be so expressive!!