As part of the Boy’s ongoing development, not to mention my ongoing parenting fabulousness, I never let any opportunity to get him to try to read something pass us by. To describe it as “painstaking” is akin to describing London at the moment as “wet”. It stakes so much pain that it physically hurts my brain. But I persist (because I’m one of those Tiger Mother types. Soon he’ll be able to put on his own shoes! But let’s not get carried away – he is only 5, after all.) So. We sit in traffic: I point at signs or ads or stupid t-shirt logos and pay the Boy for every right word he can make out; we sit in cafes: I point at signs or menus or stupid cafe logos and pay him for every right word; we sit in the park: signs, stupid logos, payment etc.
We sat down to breakfast yesterday. As well as being on a parenting fabulousness drive, I am also trying to be a teeny bit healthier than I may have allowed self to otherwise be of late. So the day “begins” with a large glass of water (only in as much as that is the first thing I ingest; it goes without saying, of course, that by the time I have the 3 seconds necessary to organise the water for self, I have been up for about 7 hours). I grabbed the largest glass I could, filled it with water, and joined the kids at the teeny tiny Ikea table, on the teeny tiny Ikea chairs (I spend most mealtimes feeling like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput). I put the glass down.
I know. I KNOW. What was I thinking? I suspect that my poor brain was so shrunken with dehydration that I wasn’t thinking at all. Anyway, the inevitable (unprompted, for the first time ever – of course) happened.
Boy: Mama... What is fuh-uh-cuh-cuh? F-u-c-k? Fuck?
Me: (Gobsmacked. What the FLIP was I going to say? And why, of all the words on that glass did he choose that one? Why couldn't he have chosen "shit"?) Um... it’s... I don’t know....
Boy: But you must know ! It’s a word!
Girl: Fuck! Fuck-fuck-fuck!
Me: I think it might be Spanish. Uncle Gus bought the glass. He probably bought it in Spain.
Boy: I don’t think so. “Cuh” plus “Kuh” makes a hard “cuh” sound in ENGLISH. Not in Spanish.
Boy: So what does it mean? What is it?
Girl: Fuck! Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck!
An image of the Girl skipping off to nursery chirping “fuckety-fuck-fuck-fuck” under her breath leaps into my brain. I have to think of SOMETHING. I decide to come clean.
Me: I’m sorry. I wasn’t telling the truth. I do know what the word is. It’s a VERY bad word. It’s the WORST word you can ever say.
(Please God don’t ever let Uncle Gus buy a glass with the word "cunt" on it)
Boy: (Visibly lit up) Fuck? Really? Fuck!
Girl: FUCK! FUCKFUCKFUCK!
By now I am fully expecting the Baby to join in.
Me: Seriously guys. It is such a bad word that if Mr Cummings heard you say it at school he would send you home.
Boy: (Visibly ecstatic) REALLY??
Me: You can’t say it. Promise me you won’t say it any more.
I raise my eyebrows in a Tiger Mother sort of way. They dissolve into hysterical profanity-laiden giggles.
I decide to shut them up by stuffing food in their mouths. It works. We get through the rest of breakfast, through the hell that is GettingOutTheDoor, and finally to school. On the way in we pass by Mr Cummings.
Boy: Good morning Mr Cummings!
Mr C: Good morning. And how are we this morning?
Boy: I learnt a new word. The worst word EVER. Mummy told me.
Boy: It’s.... Mummy, what is it again?
I smile and try to look stupid and, thanking the Good Lord and all his holy saints, usher him through to his classroom, where his teacher and all his class mates are sitting. (We are late, of course). I dump him, and flee. As I’m hurrying past Mr Cummings, from behind me I hear:
"Mummy! It’s FUCK!"
Thank GOD we are moving to Singapore.