(WARNING: THIS ONE’S SWEARY)
In light of today’s Cbeebies Cunt scandal…sorry, I have to stop there. I need to stand back, compose myself, and take in the full glory of that sentence…
I think now’s a good time to talk about four lettered words. Class A bad words, as well as Class B’s, find themselves frequently inside my mouth. I am not offended by swearing, in fact some of the Class B’s have become my favourites. Slag I like, but Slut I love, something about the way it rolls so deliciously off the tongue. Even the C word, the Worst Word in The World, which has upset so many Cbeebies parents, fails to bother me. And can, under less semantic circumstances (birthday perhaps?), roll deliciously off the tongue too.
Naturally, I try really hard not to swear in front of my children. And apart from a brief period, referred to as The Fuck and Shit Phase, when Bear was about 20 months old, their language is completely clean. However, I recently realised there is a very dangerous word in town. One that I must be absolutely fastidious with in front of my little boys. One that has the potential to be much more destructive than The Worst Word In The World.
Andrew, Bear, Raffy and I had gone down to the chicken shed to catch a couple of hens for our garden. This was prime Mama’s A Dirty Feminist Territory, an opportunity to show my sons that when it comes to the farm jobs, girls can be just as good as boys. The aim was to put the hens in a cardboard box and carry them the short journey back to our garden. The problem was the hens did not want to be caught. Hardly surprising when their brothers had been taken away, one by one, in the preceding weeks, never to return.
The chickens had quite a lot of room in which to remain uncaught; a big courtyard framed with open sided barns, full of old farm machinery and bales of straw. They evaded capture for quite some time. And whilst Andrew leapt and grabbed with great determination, I did not. Mostly I alternated between laughing at him and covering my hair every time a flying hen got too close. Angry, untamed adult chickens are just so big! So flappy!
Eventually he caught one and I held the cardboard box once it was in, closing the top to stop it escaping. He caught the second soon after, but when he opened the box to put it in, the first bird flew out. This was, apparently, my fault. After quite some time he caught the second one again, and we got them both home. He let Bear take them out of a box, they both escaped, and were eaten by a fox a few days later. It was not our greatest farming success.
Soon after this a friend and her seven year old daughter came for tea. As I was recounting my part in this sorry tale; my fear, reluctance and incompetence, I heard myself saying ‘I was such a g…’I caught myself just in time and snapped my jaws shut, pretty much in the same way I imagine the fox did around the poor hens.
Because not only is it important to teach boys not use the word ‘girl’ as a bad word, it’s even more important that girls don’t hear it being used in that way.
Perhaps we need to do a 360 turn on ‘girl’, so it becomes a flattering, rather than derogatory adjective. Something that denotes skill, strength and impressiveness. In the same way men are praised for being ‘real men’ maybe one day girls will be praised for being ‘real girls’. Although I fear this will take some doing in the areas of throwing and screaming…
I’m sorry, I can’t make any more sensible suggestions. I can’t stop going back to that glorious, glorious Cbeebies clip.
I’ll hopefully see you soon, with something very serious and worthwhile to say. In the meantime, here’s to fluttering kites!