Sam Wilson

Freely foul-mouthed

2004-06-30 08:38

Hi. I am Sam and I swear freely in front of my small children. There. I said it. Everyone who would like to have a little swoon, feel free to click on another link, but for those of you who are still reading: this is why.

Before I had children, I didn't expect to feel so strongly about this. In fact, I am still terribly surprised that I do. When one considers parenting, one assumes the issues that you are going to care about post-sprogging will be the serious ones: global warming, crime, education and whether or not there will be enough landfill space left to handle your guilty share of disposable nappies. And I do care about these things. But, I find, the more time I spend with my little people and in the company of others with little people, the thing I really care most about is hypocrisy.

I have never understood the whole to-do about swearing. These are words: little noises that come out of your mouth. Unless strung together with other more laden terms, they do not constitute hate speech. They are simply words that have picked up more emotive connotations than most others and so tend to carry a little more conversational zing. Let's face it. Nothing adds a bit of dash to a sentence like a well-placed fuck. And why is that such a bad thing?

I do understand that this is my personal opinion and that there are a lot of people out there who feel differently. Many of my sons' teachers, for instance. So I have explained to my sons that while Mommy feels perfectly okay swearing like a trouper, repeating many of the words I use on the playground may very well get them into a lot of bother. My sons seem to have internalised this and don't swear very much, it being more trouble than it is worth a lot of the time.

But by restricting my own language in front of my children, I would be pretending to believe something I don't. And for better or worse, I am the mother they have. We were at a shop the other day when a small boy in the family next to us pointed his toy gun at a pigtailed person, presumably his sister, and shouted, "You are dead, you bugger!" His mother clipped him smartly across the cheek and screamed, for all to hear, "If you use that word again, you foul little boy, I am going to take you home and give you such a hiding!"

My eldest son who, like everyone else in a twenty-metre radius, had been watching this scene play out with interest, recoiled in empathy at the blow, looked at me, raised his eyebrows and said, "Fuck me".

Indeed.

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  • Sam Wilson is a columnist for a variety of print magazines and a strategist for a contract publishing company.

    Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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