TL was just finishing off his bagel the other morning when he suddenly went pale, shot out of his seat, and ran off, shouting, ‘bloody hell!’.
‘Whaaaaat?’ I said, as the rest of us sat round the breakfast table looking surprised. ‘I’m supposed to be at a breakfast meeting in St Pancras. Now!’ he said, as he rummaged for shoes/coat/keys/phone. ‘Bloody hell!’ I agreed, and watched as he sprinted down the road.
I went back to finish breakfast. ‘You said ‘bloody hell’!’ said Child One and Child Two together, in deeply accusatory tones.
That’s the trouble with not swearing. When I do finally, occasionally, crack and allow an oath to pass my lips, it becomes a bigger story for the girls than the calamity that provoked it.
Once, when our car had just that day come back from the garage, some
idiot person opened their own car door right into our side. The children learned some rich, fruity new vocabulary that day and, naturally, told their teacher all about it. Luckily, at the time we lived in Belgium so the teacher, I very much hope, was none the wiser.
A friend who is a lot less buttoned-up about swearing said she knew she was probably overdoing it when she had to brake suddenly at a crossing, and her five-year-old piped up from the back, ‘aren’t you going to say ‘Frog In Hole’ like you usually do, Mummy?’
When, not so long ago, I forgot to pick up a friend’s daughter (arghhhhhhh! except that arghhhhhhh! wasn’t the word I used), Child One gave me a severe talking-to. ‘Mummy, you need to learn some new swear words. You used the same one about 17 times!’
But even when you stop yourself from swearing, you’re not out of the woods as a parent. Another friend, who hails from Ireland, was in a restaurant with her small daughter when the waiter dropped a plate right by their table. ‘Jesus Crisis!’ shouted the little girl, while her mother did the only sensible thing she could – tried desperately to hide behind a napkin.