I thought about my grandmother the other day, as I lay on the side of the road, bleeding and fighting the urge to spew. I could hear her muttering, “Farting higher than you’re arse again” at the over-confidence that made me attempt something well beyond my biking ability. It was a spectacular fall that left me bruised and shredded (the bike was blessedly unscathed) and very embarrassed because I was, indeed, farting higher than my arse.
Most other grandmothers might have scoffed that I was being “cocky” or “foolhardy”, but not mine. She was the woman who taught me that “The Devil always shits on the biggest pile,” and that, if I ever got too big for my boots, I should remember that she could “still spit up” to my lofty heights.
As a kid, I chanted along to all the regular revolting rhymes – Wonder Woman losing her bosoms while flying TAA, the kookaburra with his pants on fire, penis butter and vagina-mite making a spectacular sexual sandwich – but who can boast that their grandmother taught them a rhyme (albeit in German) that went something like:
“‘Oh my dear Miss Backhouse,
Where might I find the shitter?
I can’t stand, I can’t walk
I have to take a dump right now…’
‘Go to the right, go to the left
And then straight ahead
There you’ll find a house
Where you can crap to your heart’s content.’”
(It’s a loose translation, but I assure you, the vernacular is precise and in German, it fairly rolls off the tongue in a catchy little sing-song rhyme.)
Was she not the coolest Gran in the world?
And then I began to wonder what crass my mother will impart to my children…
And then I wondered when it was and why it was that I crossed the line from being naughty with language to swearing like a fishmonger’s daughter…
And then I wondered how I was going to handle this challenge with my own children…
And a challenge it is already shaping up to be, given a conversation I had with my 2 ½ year old Little Lion the other day:
LL: Mummy, [Little Lion] do a wee in the toilet? (My son speaks in the third person, like the queen. It’s a little weird, I know, but you get used to it.)
ME: Ok, but remember you have to take your nappy off first.
LL: Ah. Nappy off.
(He takes his nappy off, sits on the pot and proceeds to make wee sound effects. He stands, turns and makes flush sound effects as he taps the back corner of the pot.)
LL: All finished! (Pronounced “all diis”)
ME: Good boy! Now we have to put your nappy on again.
LL: Ah. Nappy on.
(He tries to put his nappy on while standing. Not a pull-up one. Clearly, this is awkward, so I offer some assistance.)
ME: Here. You have to lie down so I can put your nappy on.
LL: No! My nappy!
ME: Yes, it is your nappy, but I will help you put it on.
LL: No! [LL] put on da nappy!
(I realise that this is going be a long ordeal just as Blossom begins screaming that she is BEING IGNORED! AGAIN!)
ME: Come on. Give me the nappy and lie down.
(LL snatches the nappy and glares at me with unadulterated fury)
LL: NO! MY NAPPY! [LL] PUT IT ON!… *pause*…*sigh and shaking head*… ’Fuck’s sake, Mummy…
Could it be that Wonder Woman losing her bosoms and those fucking good sandwiches have led me to a point where, after 2 ½ years, I have already failed to impart some sense of decorum to my Little Lion? Could Miss Backhouse’s instructions to the lavatory have ruined my ability to raise children without gutter-mouths? How can I turn back the tide? Where is the line and how can I reinforce it when I, by my own admission, live on the smutty side of town?
And this was what flew through my mind as I lay on the side of the road, post stack, bleeding and fighting the urge to spew. Go figure.