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Saturday, October 10, 2009

"You been away a long time Billy, I don't shine shoes no more"

I remember vividly, a time when my Dad and I were play fighting in the front (or living), room; I think I was about 11 or 12 years old. I can also remember it was a Saturday morning, although exactly what that has to do with this post is unclear, even to me.

I can remember lots of laughter, trying to avoid getting tickled and generally having loads of fun, until a mis-timed knee caught me where guys try to avoid getting caught and all the wind was knocked out of me.

"Ouch", I groaned. "Right in my balls!"

I said it jokingly and continued to laugh, even though I was genuinely in pain.

My Dad stopped and looked at me like I'd slapped him hard in the face. He got up, turned, and walked out of the room, leaving me feeling ever so slightly confused.

I wasn't being a smart mouth. Sure, I'd heard the words in the playground and I knew too that the term 'balls' referred to a boys 'bits'. What I'd misjudged was when to and, more importantly, when not to, use the term. From memory, my Dad and I never discussed that episode further. I think it was enough that I knew never to say it again, at least, not in front of him.

Jump forward a generation and it's now my turn to deal with slang words for body parts.

Joseph was getting ready for a bath tonight and was finding it generally hilarious to run around his bedroom without a stitch on.

"You know what Dad? You know what [friend] calls these?" He kindly pointed to "those" in case I wasn't sure what he was referring to.

"No, I don't know", I offered back, trying to feign indifference when actually I was thrilled to be finding out what the 21st century terminology had to offer.

"BALLS!" Joseph squealed, clearly delighted at having enlightened me on the matter. It was obvious to him that it was his friend and his friend alone that had come up with this highly original and comic explanation.

"I see", I replied, folding his trousers and trying very hard not to let him see me smirking.

I needn't have bothered. Joseph was on his bedroom floor, slapping the floor while he hooted with laughter.

I carried on tidying up, checking on the bath water and telling him to get on with things.

Without calling for my attention, he continued.

"And d'you know what [other friend] says when we're playing football and the other team have a free kick?"

I avoided his look and continued tidying.

"Cover yer nuts!"

I looked at him this time; he was beaming from ear to ear, fit to bursting. It was all too much. We both exploded into laughter, me only slightly louder than he, rolling on the floor. A few minutes passed, only the sound of deep bath water still running broke the spell and I jumped up to turn off the taps.

I went back to him and explained how certain words weren't appropriate to use; yes he would probably use them with his friends but woe betide him if he got caught using them at any other time.

The memory of me saying it in front of my Dad is one of the more vivid one's I have. I always told myself that I would deal with any child of mine saying risqué words differently to how my Dad did, 30 odd years ago.

That day has actually arrived and yes, I handled things differently.

Who's to say, however, that my way is better? I mean, it sure felt better laughing about it with Joseph as opposed to walking out on him. But perhaps it will be my laughter that will stay with him, my reaction to his use of the word 'balls' and he won't be as aware of the strength of the word as a 'swear' word, or slang word and therefore, he will use it more freely.

Perhaps Joseph will remember the episode in 25 years.

I wonder how he'll handle it?


Blogger Alistair said...

Hullo DOAB,
A lovely personal post and great fun too. You clearly have a very strong bond with your kids.

Made me remember times as a child when I too could be completely incapacitated with laughter, and how that made the grown ups so intoxicated too. A special time for both.

I hope you have many more to enjoy together.

Hopefully you also thoroughly shared the correct 'minding your nuts' technique too.


1:27 am

Blogger Dad said...

Hey Al.

I take it as a compliment, when I manage to "get across" the bond I (like to think I) have with my children.

Thanks for bothering to notice!


11:39 pm


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