A The big topic of conversation in our house is how much stricter English schools are than their American equivalents. What if, one of my children will say when leaving the house in the morning, I wore what I wear to school in England? (You would be sent home.) What if I wore my hat to class? (You’d be told to take it off.) What if – most importantly – I went to school wearing makeup and fake nails, like some nine-year-olds do at their school? (I’d probably get a call from the office and that was totally true too.) “What about self-expression?” they complain, like diligent Americans, and I explain that it is not a priority in the English school system, and besides, wearing Air Jordans because “Ava does it” is not what what does it mean to express yourself.
These differences are obviously all based on uniformity, and elsewhere the two systems are clearly more aligned. In Mississippi this week, a new stories to warm the heart as a seven-year-old was reprimanded by the teacher for “unacceptable language”, when, to quote the school letter his mother uploaded to Facebook, “he said “Jesus Christ dropping the Legos he was cleaning upstairs.” The document the boy was sent home with fell under the heading “parental notice of disciplinary incident,” an overreaction his family objects to in a post that quickly went viral.
This incident is only funny, I would say, because of the very particular role played by the words “Jesus Christ” in the lexicon of swearing when applied to minors. It’s one of those litmus tests that shows up early on when you meet other parents – how they react to foul language and where the line is – and it often comes as a surprise. The other day, during a playdate with a mother I consider vaguely permissive, the speed with which she corrected her daughter’s use of the word “ass” to “behind” forced me to reevaluate. However, like politicians who police everyone’s moral standards to distract from their own, I sometimes think that the turmoil over language accompanies strange dynamics elsewhere.
Again, I would say this; I have a really hard time swearing. (In my defense, New York apartments are small and I can’t swear in private with another adult unless I put my people in headphones). As a result, my children are extremely primitive when it comes to language, which is both enjoyable and incredibly tedious. I can get away with “shit” because it’s in English and they don’t understand how it lands, but they blame me for everything else. Fortunately, when asked to delineate the hierarchy of swear words, their generation seems somewhat politically biased: “the N word, the B word, the Sh word,” they tell me. They don’t like the “A-word” either, although we had a long discussion this week about why, exactly, the word “nasty” is in common use while the simple “ass” in it -even is quite crude.
Meanwhile, the F-word, which one might think would rank at the top of the list, is both so ubiquitous and so out of reach that they don’t even rank it — though they can’t recognize that , under the right circumstances, it can be very funny. Last year, when one of their third grade teachers tripped over the corner of the rug and said the word “damn,” my daughter timed it and brought it home to us, in a story we’ll take pleasure to revisit for the rest of our lives.
Which brings us, in a way, to Jesus Christ. Even my puritanical children can understand that in the case of this particular vulgarity it is not age appropriate, not because it is obscene, but because, like a baby wearing a flat cap, it has a aesthetic that belongs to the elderly. A little kid swearing with the jaded frustration of a grizzled executive or a salty old diva can only reasonably be considered funny — except, it turns out, in Mississippi.
Contacted for comment by a local Fox television station, the DeSoto County School District remarked about the seven-year-old’s outburst over having to clean up Legos: “Students in DeSoto County DeSoto wouldn’t be reprimanded if they just said Jesus Christ. ” However, the spokesperson added: “It is possible that a student could be corrected for disrespectful use of the name of Jesus Christ. » Well, absolutely. Context is everything. In this case, I draw your attention to the recent viral video of a two-year-old Australian girl looking out the window and naively saying, “There’s a fucking goat outside!” ”, which – I’m not proud of it, but what can I do? – seems to me to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.