Thursday, September 29, 2011

Verbal restraint

As regular readers will know, one of the things I miss about being in the formal workplace (and consequently the subject of my occasional semi-wistful bloggery) is the swearing. I have no idea if other professional workplaces--accountants' offices, perhaps, or legal chambers--are as sweary as art galleries, whose denizens rival printers, mechanics and even various off-duty doctors of my acquaintance for volleys of creative verbal filth.

It's a terrible truth which antenatal classes and parenting manuals somehow omit to inform you of (and if they were to, no doubt the birth-rate would decline even further): when you stay at home to look after small children, your swearing days are over, or are at least cruelly curtailed. Many women take up part-time work again for that very reason.

If, like me, you come from a long unbroken line of champion super-heavyweight Olympic-grade swearers, you will find this unintended consequence of parenthood both a terrible imposition and a personal liability. Although in the right hands swearing is both funny and clever, it is neither when issuing forth from the angelic mouth of a three-year-old. Verbal restraint is required. For the first time I have understood wherefore 'sugar' and 'flip', though as yet I have not plumbed those feeble saccharine depths.

The Periodic Table to Swearing, by Modern Toss

Consequently, at our house creative substitutions of the Beavis and Butthead variety are occasionally required. But in the hands of the small guy, who has ears like a bat and a great love of colourful language (he does share the industrial-strength DNA, after all), this can quickly lead to conversations of the following nature:

"Zip it, fartknocker!"
"No, you zip it. And don't say fartknocker."
"No, you zip it, Mum."
"Zip it! I mean it."
"OK." (Whispering.) "Fartknocker."
"Heh heh. Nothing." (Very faint whispering.) "Fartknocker."

Etc. As I've noted before, this is not the sort of conversation you'd ever imagine you'd be involved in. But after you have children you're lucky if it only happens once a day. And if it's as mild as this. I've gained a new-found respect for my own father's clearly superhuman powers of verbal restraint.


Allie said...

This is such a great blog post! Am passing it on to all my childrened siblings.

Anonymous said...

Nah, we just did it. Children know not to swear with teachers. Or correct their spelling and grammar.
Bur the joy of getting to a desk in the morning where things are in place you left THAT is a reason to go to work.

Robyn said...

I've worked in quite few sweary offices, including one particularly sweary office, where new staff were warned about the sweariness in the job interview.

I like sweary offices for what they represent. People in a sweary office tend to be more creative and fun. I'm currently unemployed and it makes me sad to think of having to work in a non-sweary office.