Swearing for Toddlers

I’d like to start this post with a disclaimer. I am not usually a swear-er. I tried to get into it when I was about 10, as all the cool kids seemed to be doing it, but I could never get the words to roll off the tongue naturally, and I was quickly spotted for the fake-swearer that I was and didn’t get in with the cool kids. So I stopped, and stuck to the occasional “s***”, which in The Netherlands is a much milder swear word than it is in Britain.

Motherhood, I have found, brings out sides to you that you never knew were there. Rage, for me. I never knew I could get so angry, particularly about very minor things that, on reflection, usually turn out to be my own stupid fault rather than the Toddler’s. So it may be that, very occasionally, I may have used the F-word. To myself, or the world at large, in the kitchen. Not to my poor son, I promise.

However, I think he must have heard.

The other day he was playing with his play dough numbers and number 3 got squished. I came into the room and found him frowning at the shapeless lump in his hand that used to be his beloved number 3 and heard him say to himself: “Fik – fak – ff…” He was clearly searching for the right word for the situation, trying to remember what he had overheard.

“Fok – fox!” That was it. His face cleared up. It must have been “fox”, that made sense. Then he added his favourite expletive for good measure: “Oh bovver!”

I was killing myself laughing – and of course also very ashamed that my son had heard me use a word I thought I’d never use.

“Fox” as a swear word for toddlers really appeals to me. In fact, I propose the introduction of a whole range of animal-swear words to cover all occasions. “Sheep” can replace sh**, and “beetles” b****cks. We have been trialling the system in our house and the results are very pleasing.

“The internet is foxed again,” I grumble at my husband.

“Yup, it’s because [our internet provider] is a bit sheep,” he replies.

Now this is swearing even I can cope with. Although I think the cool kids probably still wouldn’t let me in their gang.