Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Past Deadline: It's Enough to Make You Swear

I swear this was published in The Perth Courier on Tuesday, May 12/09.

It’s enough to make you swear

The other day I walked into the den and Girlchild was wandering around saying, “Ship ship ship ship.”

Boychild was sitting on the couch watching TV.

“What are you doing, Girlchild?” I asked.

“Oh,” Boychild pipes up, “She’s saying a bad word, but she’s not saying it right.” He turns to her. "Girlchild, that’s not the way you say it!”

“Ship ship ship ship.”

He looks at me exasperated. The hamster is running furiously in my brain.

“Where did she learn the word that she’s not saying right?” I ask.

“Well, I told her but didn’t really say it,” he says, adding, “I told her we’re not supposed to say that word.”

“Don’t tell her stuff like that, Boychild!” I said in my best Archie Bunker voice. Edith! “You know when you say stuff like that she’s just going to repeat it!”

“Ship ship ship ship ship.”

“See? And where did you learn this word that you’re not supposed to say?” I always hate asking questions like that because I’m afraid I won’t like the answer; that it’ll be something along the lines of, “Well, Mom, you said it the other day.”

Groom-boy and I try really hard not to swear around the kids. We prefer to let all our naughty words come out late at night long after the kids are in bed while we do wild and crazy things like watching the news and making fun of the anchors. Sometimes, though, ship happens. My spacious office, for example, is located right outside Boychild’s bedroom in the dormer window area. I do a lot of work after he goes to bed. I freely admit that if the computer isn’t cooperating, strings of not-so-nice words might come flying out of my mouth. “Listen you icky, poopy darned old machine,” I have been known to say. “If you don’t open that file I swear I’m gonna throw you out the oopsy window!”

The only other time I have been known to cuss is after watching The Sopranos, which taught me all sorts of new words. Of course since that show has been off the air for a while and I don’t have time to watch the reruns on A&E, I haven’t really sworn much at all for a couple of years. Ahem.

Anyway, much to my – uh – relief, sort of, Boychild didn’t point a finger at his hardly-ever-foulmouthed parents. Instead, he named an older boy at school. Apparently the primary kids let fly with the s-word and f-word now and again. Sigh.

“Ship ship ship ship,” continues the parrot.

“Alright, Girlchild, that’s enough,” I say in my best parental-authority-about-to-be-ignored voice.

I turn back to Boychild. “You know those are grown-up words that kids shouldn’t use,” I say, adding quickly that grown-ups probably should use them either. “If anyone hears you using them at school, you’ll probably be sent to the principal’s office.”

“I know,” he says.

Of course I really have no idea if he would be sent to the principal’s office. You may have noticed I am prone to exaggeration by times. Perhaps I should have suggested he would be expelled and sent to jail.

I gotta hand it to Boychild, though; he plays the game well. He seems to have a good sense of right and wrong. For example, as two of his buddies were taking a toddler push bike to the top of the slide in our backyard and running it down, he apparently stood there and lectured them about how they shouldn’t be doing it because it’s dangerous. Atta, boy. Too bad he didn’t come and tell me before one of them fell off backward and landed on his head.

Like any good older sibling, though, Boychild knows how to get things going with his sister. I’m sure he would have loved to have seen my reaction had his sister indeed mastered the correct pronunciation of the s-word. Ah, the fine art of getting siblings in trouble. Perhaps it’s genetic, in which case he got it from a pro. Just ask my parents. And my little brother, for that matter.

I have no doubt whatsoever that one of these days the ship will really hit the fan.