I think this one is a tribute to my mum, so I’ll say that right away and you can make your judgement of it as you read!
I was walking to the train station on Thursday morning ready to catch the train to Dan for the weekend in Wales to meet Heather and Mark and celebrate Dan’s birthday.
As I walked, I was listening to what was around (as you do), and talking to Dan on the phone (as I do!). I was in the middle of talking about some ongoing roadworks that were happening and how they were being co-ordinated around a big junction so that the traffic wasn’t totally obstructed but the work could still continue when I chanced to hear a snippet of a conversation between a mother and daughter on their way somewhere. They had bikes but were walking at the time.
Mother: “No, you can damn well walk.” I never heard the child’s response, or what had triggered that comment as I was walking the opposite way to catch a train, and I assume the two were making their way to the child’s school; but it struck me that I was suprised at the way that adult addressed the child.
When I was primary school age, my mother was at pains to make sure I didn’t learn to use bad language in normal speech, to the point of not allowing the phrase “shut up” and strongly discouraging the people around me from using cuss/curse words. As a result, it never occurred to me as a child that I should swear at all, and I didn’t really pick up any form of bad language until I was in my mid-teens at secondary school.
I have to confess to finding it quite sad that adults use bad language to children and then I hear those children return those same words to the adults or (worse still I think) use them to other children.
I’ve taken to asking some people who swear frequently in conversation what they will say when things go really wrong and they need to express their feelings, because I would say words they are using in everyday life. It does make them stop and think for a moment.
Back to the lady and little girl. I was talking to Dan, after I’d passed them and I was struck all over again by how the way my mother has raised me to find a better way to express myself has stayed with me. Even now I really don’t use bad language very much at all. Sometimes it almost as though mum is behind my shoulder asking if I really needed to say that, or is there a better way to put it?
I did and still do appreciate the way my mum raised me. I love the fact that I have a broad and varied vocabulary and don’t stick to the same few words to express myself.
Thank you mum!