Until university I barely swore. Even through the first couple of years of study I still avoided cursing. During my finals and then my teacher training my vocabulary suddenly amassed plenty of effs and jeffs. Once I began teaching, I was diligent to not swear in front of students – in any context – and rarely with colleagues. But once my NQT year was complete it was almost as though I gave a massive sigh of relief and a tirade of filth escaped. I’m still mindful of my language around young people, but I’m less concerned in every day circumstances. I don’t swear for the sake of it, but I do think that on occasion it can be big and/or clever.
But now I have a two-year-old sponge following me around, soaking up my every word. And while I don’t have a problem with swearing, I don’t want him to develop this habit. So, I’m returning to old trusted phrases that stood me in good stead in my non-sweary days. They often sound twee and antiquated, a throwback to days when people found themselves in a pickle over a lost farthing. But they are rather lovely.
They are loveliest still when they emit from Little Chick’s mouth. When he drops a drink and utters ‘oh, gosh’; when he accidentally draws on something he shouldn’t and grumbles ‘goodness’; when he trips up and exclaims ‘oh sugar’. All with a gentle sweetness that make me think how much he’s grown already and how it won’t be too long before he plays with the big boys on the schoolyard and learns slang, swear words, and a raft of rude words. For now, I will cherish Little Chick just as he is. So many of the things he says and does make me exclaim ‘oh gosh’. The words have barely escaped my lips when they are replaced by a smile, acknowledging the cuteness of a little boy that soaks up my words just as I drink in his.