Ben is ploughing through his latest Anthony Horowitz novel and dutifully he’s telling me about the swear word count – a lot of ‘hells’, several ‘bloodys’ and even one ‘bitch’.
He spells the words out to me to avoid any harmful impact on my obviously sensitive parental psyche.
He missed out the ‘t’ in ‘bitch’ – but I put him right.
Swear words have become quite an issue in his life and they’re proving a perplexing minefield through which to steer.
For instance, he and his friends at school were recently discussing the everyday activities of gnomes.
The perceived wisdom in the classroom, presumably Disney-inspired, is that they work all day and work all night.
Ben offered the thought,
“How do they get time for sex?”
Hmm, liberal parenting regime you might think – or just an early introduction to sex education (both true).
But his reflection was greeted with shocked silence.
He’d used the s-e-x word in the company of everyday country folk.
The outrage was reported to one of the lunch-hour supervisory staff who issued Ben with a formal warning, a serious sanction because three warnings in a week means the loss of Golden Time.
The loss of one weekly Golden Time session also means exclusion from the end-of-term treat, this Easter’s being a trip to the ten-pin bowling alley.
Ben’s a bit shocked by all of this.
What if he’d used a serious swear-word, one of the ones he picked up in the playground in Plymouth?
Or even one of the expressions (probably worse) he’s heard used by his parents at moments of extreme stress?
Perhaps in Jersey it’s a problem to say ‘Go-od’ in that expressive way his father has when computers play up?
Where do you draw the line?
Would ‘hell’ bring eternal damnation? Whoops I did it again.
Or is ‘damn’ okay if you add the ‘nation’?
Is ‘penis’ a good word or a bad one? And if it’s not acceptable, what should he call it?
His Mum once went to see a play called the Vagina Monologues, clearly he can’t mention that in the playground.
Grown-ups have such effing double-standards.
I seem to have been ousted…