I was getting changed after a swim at the local leisure centre the other day when, from the neighbouring cubicle, I heard this: Wow, you’re a big boy aren’t you. Naturally, I nodded. But then: It’s hard, isn’t it. Would you like a hand pulling it?
Surprising for a multitude of reasons, not least the fact I’d just emerged from a cold, public swimming pool.
Of course, it quickly transpired that it was actually a mum talking to her young son who, presumably, was making a good fist of trying to get himself dressed. Perfectly reasonable and certainly not the risqué scenario it initially sounded.
But it did get me thinking. Imagine the conversations we have with our kids…then picture someone listening somewhere just out of sight. What must it all sound like to them?! At least 50% of it’s complete filth.
Like lunchtime as my three year old spends his umpteenth minute faffing around with his food as if it’s laced with poison. Finally, I step in, scooping up a hefty dollop and delivering it with an encouraging-but-non-negotiable: Open wide, here it comes! Then: make sure you swallow it all. Now, imagine someone walking past and hearing an adult male saying that to an unseen ‘victim’. Welcome to Hollywood.
Or the time I’m at home, desperately trying to get some piece of mundane life admin done while one (or both) of my sons incessantly pesters me to play with them. Why don’t you play with yourself for a little while? I say, a suggestion that may carry very different connotations in a few years’ time when they become teenagers.
Fixate on it, and the innuendo is everywhere. Push harder, it’s tight as I battle Nathan’s shoes into place while the postman sniggers on the other side of the door. OK, bend over and I’ll have a look for one of the endless stream of bruises, splinters and small injuries Dylan picks up.
Or the moment one of them arrives from the garden caked in mud. Oh my God! says my wife. You’re so dirty! Strip off and then upstairs. In this case to the shower, most likely battling him all the way. Yet were Laura to text that to me, it’s fair to say I’ll be right there.
Even the relatively innocuous instructions we deliver as parents like hands out of your trousers please and I don’t want to be licked thank you, would, if heard without the visual context, leave the average person wondering what kind of hell they’re about to walk in on. And that’s without factoring in the litany of filth being thrown up by Dylan’s recent enrollment into Beavers.
So, while it’s nothing new to say parenting should be X-rated, in this case I don’t mean the theft of sleep, free-time and cleanliness that assails every household following the arrival of kids. I’m talking about the everyday filth we rely on to keep our children socially and/or behaviourally acceptable. Ironic given how hard we all work to keep ‘naughty words’ away from their young ears.
Obviously, there’s not much we can do about it, most of us have got bigger problems to contend with and it’s probably just my own smutty mind working overtime anyway. But, whatever, think enough about it, and the stream of innuendo we spew out as mums and dads is endless.
I’m sure you have your own examples and I’d love to hear them. In the meantime, I’ll be watching what I say next time I take Nathan to the swimming pool.