You can get thrown in the clink for up to a year in Germany for swearing. Seriously, it's the law and what's more it is occasionally implemented! Obviously there is an element of lenience for which parents all over the country, me included, should be grateful and importantly this law is restricted to aggressive profanities in public.
It is my observation that Germans don't swear as much as their British counterparts. Interestingly however, one word in particular, namely our four letter "s" word, is widely regarded by pretty much all members of society as being acceptable. It can be heard from all age groups and sectors of the community as though on a par with "good heavens" or "oh dear". Unlike in the UK this word is frequently used on public radio and television.
So I shouldn't have been surprised but was nonetheless somewhat alarmed to hear it from the hitherto innocent lips of my three year old. It came out of nowhere. It wasn't even incorporated into a sentence. It was merely stated after a period of unusual silence (should have known something was brewing) whilst in the car.
I so wanted to laugh. It was clearly a test. But how best to react? Ignore? Reprimand? It was certainly something I wanted to nip in the bud but I was also well aware of a toddlers lust for reaction. Any reaction.
"What did you just say?"
"Nothing, I didn't say anything"
I then metamorphosed into my mother but inexplicably with a considerably more Joanna Lumleyesque type accent (I come from Lancashire!), following up with, "I should jolly well hope not!"
JOLLY WELL! Words previously never uttered by me were supplemented by what I could only hope was a suitably forbidding glance and a silent prayer that that would suffice.
Two blasphemous free days later, Finje, having chased the last evil green pea around her plate, wielding her fork, a frown of pure concentration on her tiny brow finally gave up the fight. Laying down her weapon in defeat with a deep sigh and in a voice filled with unadulterated capitulation, she uttered the dreaded word again.
Honestly, I couldn't have said it better myself.
I let it slide. This time!
So, how do we stop our children from swearing?