Of Shouting and Punishment...

>> Tuesday, 1 September 2009

I am so ready for Boy #1 to go back to school tomorrow - and frankly, I suspect he is too. Don't get me wrong, we've had a wonderful 8 week summer break that's gone by far more quickly than I ever thought it would (one of the paradoxes of private-school education in the UK is that the more you pay for your child's schooling, the more you see of them...), but I think we're both feeling that now it's time to move on.

He has become rather more demanding and teenage-like over the last week or so than I would actually like, and I - well, I have become rather more shouty. It's as if, after 7 weeks of keeping a lid on any frustrations, I have reached the tipping point, and am raising my voice far too easily. This does happen in our usual routine, but not as often as recently (honest, m'lud), and is not the mummy I want to be. I've worked out why it happens, though.

It's because I can't swear.

I don't know about you, but in my pre-children life there was little that was more satisfying, more expressive, than to throw a good expletive in every now and again when the occassion demanded it. Not in the gratuitous swearing style of 'Yes, I would just love a fxxx'in' cup of tea', or the 'Bxxxer me, I'm tired' way of things, but more in the 'For fxxk'x sake, how much more of this xhxt do I have to take!' way of things.

But of course, when you have children, all that is supposed to stop. So whilst I might mutter under my breath every now and again, or once in a blue moon text Husband to ask 'Would it be out of the question to tell our children to eff off?' (a text that he doesn't bother to answer, by the way, since he knows that just sending it in the first place is release enough for me), I never actually use any of the 'Forbidden Words'.

Potty Mummy expletives nowadays consist of 'Bother!' 'Blast!' and 'For Goodness' Sake!', which make me sound like an Angela Brazil or Enid Blyton novel, and which just don't afford the same level of comfort in moments of crisis. And since there's nothing intrinsically different in there to the sort of language I normally use, it has as much impact on my sons as water does on a duck's back. Hence the shouting, which kicks in on my fourth or fifth time of requesting that they put their shoes on / start tidying up / just stop whining about the rain and get out of the car I've been standing in the middle of the street in heavy traffic holding the door open for you for 5 minutes now whilst you whitter on about getting your hair wet...

I don't know why I bother raising my voice though. I mean, yes, more often than not whatever perfectly reasonable request I'm making does finally sink in once I raise the decibel level, but even that's amazing as both my sons know perfectly well that they have nothing to fear from me other than - ooooooh, the naughty chair. Whilst they are not that keen on it, that's not - whatever Super Nanny says - very much of a deterrent in the punishment stakes.

I suspect that whatever remorse they show whilst seated on it is simply for form's sake and to shut me up. In fact, they are probably thinking 'best give the poor old dear a break. At least let her think she's won this one...' before, time up, they pootle off and promptly do what boys do best - just getting on with it and forgetting whatever unpleasantness happened 5 minutes ago - leaving me to feel guilty and small for having tried to impose some kind of order on their 5 or 3 year old lives...

Parenting in the Noughties. It's a mugs game. Is it any wonder I shout from time to time?


Nicola 2 September 2009 at 02:06  

I think you have hit the nail right on the head. I don't actually think I would shout as much if I could be constantly muttering aloud "oh for F@cks sake...do I have to ask you again??" There is something so calming about swearing. And constantly holding all that natural sedative inside, instead of letting it work its magic in the external air around you...well, it's just no wonder I shout. Thanks for making it just so fucking obvious.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy 2 September 2009 at 08:38  

I hear you! My god how I hear you. In fact I'm hearing you so loudly, I'm wondering if you are in fact shouting (with a good few swear words) in my ear. I have been known to occasionally be unable to repress the odd bad word (bad mother). I reach full volume pretty fast (bad mother). I fret for hours about how my boys just shout at each other - I know they get it from me and I hate it. I also hate that they haven't taken on board the 10 times I've asked them nicely to do something before screeching - just do it! - at them. They skip the 10 nice times and move effortlessly to the imitation of Mummy losing it. I hate that and hope that they don't show anyone else this side of our home life.

PS I also vent by sending inappropriate texts to people who understand. You're right, they don't need to reply, just the action of sending it is a great letting off steam moment.

Mwa 2 September 2009 at 10:17  

Was on the phone to my brother a minute ago, and heard my one year old repeat "wanker" after me. Woops. I told her she misheard and it was "tanker". She believed me.

Mom de Plume 2 September 2009 at 10:52  

Oh, how well I know how you feel! I also do NOT want to be a shouty mother and am sure if I could insert a few colourful words into my sentences I would be less likely to shout!!!!!

I have just been given some interesting advice about allowing children to regulate their own behaviour. My 5 year old daughter is, at times, difficult to get through to! Someone mentioned I try the marble jar! Which I have just blogged about if you are interested... good luck and happy parenting :)

bsouth 2 September 2009 at 13:28  

You're so right. I expect that if we were allowed to swear at our children they'd probably take us more seriously as well.

"Nuts" is my new favourite expletive.

Potty Mummy 2 September 2009 at 14:08  

Nicola - no fucking problem... (writing that just felt WRONG - this Enid Blyton stuff clearly has a stronger hold than I thought)

Brit, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Oh, and yes...

No Mwa - she's bluffing. She doesn't believe you for a moment and will trot out the W word at the next inopportune moment...

MdP, I need help, so will be over to check that out!

BSouth, thanks for commenting and the thing is 'nuts' IS almost an expletive in this house as both boys are allergic; I can't believe I didn't think of using it before, thankyou!

memoriesdad 2 September 2009 at 15:19  

Spot on. Have you tried using half-strength swear words like 'crap'? I can't quite decide whether they are acceptable or not!

Iota 2 September 2009 at 17:09  

My mother, bless her, used the child-friendly expletive: "botheration and constipation!". That really needs to be in italics, upper case, bold, and with lots of exclamation marks, but you get the idea.

Home Office Mum 2 September 2009 at 19:58  

Oh I love you. If you were telling me this to my face right now, I'd have my head on your shoulder sort of nuzzling you the way a cat does. Not because I'm freakishly weird, but I am just so happy to know that I am not the lone shouty voice at the tail end of school holidays. I had been practicing Unconditional Parenting in which one does not shout. One rationalises and loves at all times. That is until you have to spend 6 consecutive weeks with the little blighters and you're ready to smash your head into the wall if you hear just one more 'but it's not fair...'

And last week after a particularly trying morning, I asked my son to pick up the toast crusts he'd purposefully flung onto the floor. He folded his arms and said: 'blah blah blah, wha'ever' (he's 3). At which point I lost the plot and yelled in decibels possibly heard only by dogs: 'PICK THE FUCKING TOAST UP NOOOOOOOW!'

Possibly not my finest parenting hour, but golly gosh, it felt good. And remarkably, they seemed to have missed the word (their mother's seething purple face probably put them off) and so it hasn't been repeated. But I know I can't push my luck.

They return to school tomorrow. I am beyond relieved.

Potty Mummy 2 September 2009 at 21:11  

Hi MD, I know, decaff swearing is one answer, but have to say that I don't really want to say it as I wouldn't be too happy to hear either of my two boys using it. Sauce for the goose etc... So, 'bother!' it is - for now, at least!

Iota - good tip. But what do YOU say?

HOM, my absolute pleasure to help you realise we are all (as long we admit it) shouters. And you know, whilst I wouldn't think it happening too often is a good thing, neither is having a parent full of resentment and repressed rage if they don't let it go occassionally. Plus, with the Big Race happening so soon, a little stress is acceptable, I would think?

porridgebrain 2 September 2009 at 22:39  

Oh dear. I'm going to be so bad at all this. I swear like a sailor. And I LIKE swearing. It soothes me and I find it allows me to express myself more creatively (snigger snigger - well that's my excuse for my colourful language anyway). And yet everyday I am aware of how much more Kai understands and how VERY soon he's going to start copying what I say.

So I'm going to have to join the 'oh bother' club. Blast it.

Oh fuck that it just doesn't sound right. At least I can swear online hey?!

BoozleBox 2 September 2009 at 23:21  

I'm shouty too! And I swear! Do I win a prize?

Seriously though, I don't swear often but now my oldest is 10 both my too know plenty of bad words anyway. We've explained that they can't use those words and we let them watch TV with moderate language on condition we never hear them use it and trusting them sort of works most of the time. Although my 8 year old has taken to saying 'Oh bloody hell!' lately so maybe I'm just in denial.

My favourite swearing moment though happened with the daughter of very good friends. They've always sworn around her but explained that other people don't like it and to her credit I've never heard her swear except for once when we were playing 'I Spy'. She must have been about 6 and as soon as I said 'Something beginning with W' she shouted 'Wanker?'

BoozleBox 2 September 2009 at 23:26  

Fuck - obviously I meant 'both my two' not 'too'. I can spell - honestly.

A Modern Mother 3 September 2009 at 06:53  

We don't either. When angry, have adopted Hannah Montana talk -- Oh rotten raspberries!

Potty Mummy 3 September 2009 at 12:25  

PB, perhaps we should just start up a special 'I need to swear' blog that anyone can contribute to and then we can all get it out of our systems...

BB, don't worry. I know you can fucking spell... And I suppose that my boundary on swear words is if I don't want to hear my children using them. Mind you I have to be careful with that; yesterday my 3 year old called someone a 'STUPID woman' with so much feeling that he might as well have been swearing, it sounded so wrong!

Modern, close, but no cigar I'm afraid. I just don't think 'rotten raspberries' will cut it in moments of stress - but I'm willing to give anything a try right now, so who knows?

bsouth 3 September 2009 at 14:35  

We've just found out my son is allergic too, hence it being my new favourite. I only found you through nut allergyness (on British Mummy Bloggers I think, the sudden and huge upswing of information I'm having to take in is beginning to blur into one!!)

Grit 3 September 2009 at 18:32  

go with the flow pm! we all dance around the house singing the naughty song which begins ohmygodbloodyhelldamnpissoff until everyone is quite worn out and safe enough to go out in public again.

Babies who brunch 5 September 2009 at 23:24  

The things I have to look forward to! Mine is still only 15 months so I reckon I can get away with it for a bit longer. But already I'm probably deluding myself that he's only saying 'duck'!

dulwich divorcee 6 September 2009 at 17:23  

Now that mine are older I occasionally let fly with one of the banned words in a crisis, only to find that my swearing is much more shocking for my girls than the car crash/horrific accident that provoked it. For ages they'll go round saying 'Mummy said a Bad Word' in really hushed tones.

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