June 2011 Challenge

We challenged a lady, who will be known as “L”, to give up swearing for a week. L cares for a toddler who has recently started to talk, so you can imagine why swearing might be a problem.

The toddler I’ve been looking after has been saying swear words such as ”bl@@dy h#%l”,….followed by “I hate it!”, and I cringe when I hear him say “Bl@@dy, f#*#*ing s!*t!”

I’m being held responsible, hence the challenge I have been given to stop swearing, and to at least take notice of what makes me swear.

It’s not as if I swear loudly in public. It’s just sometimes loudly in home situations. At other times I swear to myself, under my breath.

On the first day of the challenge I noticed myself swearing as I did the dishes at the toddler’s place. First, when I found that the cold tap had been turned off so hard that I couldn’t turn it on.Then I swore when it was hard to fit a large saucepan into the sink, and I burnt the back of my hand on the hot tap. When the dishes were finished I swore when the plug was hard to pull out, and I swore again when, on another attempt, a spoon was in the way.

There was more swearing during the day, then on the way home on the train I swore to myself when I tried to get a Fisherman’s Friend out of my handbag, and the three big bags on my lap, whose straps were all over my shoulder, got twisted up in front of me. Then, when I went to get up from my seat to get off the train, I swore to myself because the three bags took up so much room that it was hard for me to squeeze out. Because of all my bags I went to exit the station via the wide barrier gate. I swore to myself when I found it closed, then swore again when my valid ticket didn’t make it open. When the young man ahead of me began to talk to the attendant at the gate I swore to myself because now I would have to wait to show my ticket, but, taking things into my own hands I just pushed back the barrier with one hand and got out.

That evening I swore when I picked up my empty plate and a spoon fell off it, although I had calculated that it wouldn’t.

Over the days numerous things kept making me swear,….my keys getting caught in the handles of a plastic bag, a door lock that is infuriatingly difficult to open, ….usually inanimate things that don’t behave the way I think they should, and that seem to be out to get me.

Today it was loose mats protecting the carpet that caused the most havoc. I kept on catching my toe under various mat edges, and once I almost went sprawling on the floor. It was enough to make anyone swear.

I now realise that I have conflict with inanimate objects because I’m not sufficiently observant, or in tune with them. My mind is on other things.

I’ve tried to not let the toddler hear me swear, but it’s too late. He has learnt to swear, and yesterday, when I wasn’t there, he was heard to say loudly, and indignantly, when the brick he was playing with fell on one of his fingers,…”Bl@@dy, f#*#*ing s!*t!!”

What have I learnt from the challenge? I still think that swearing does me good sometimes, but to give it up I will have to learn to “go with the flow”, and try to be in tune with things, rather than fighting them, and reacting angrily when things seem to go wrong. Reacting angrily is a worse example to the toddler than the swear words I may say.

What’s wrong with a bit of unpredictability and chaos anyway and why should they make me angry?

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