Child (aged 9): Mum – why can’t I read the book that you wrote?
Me: You know damn we…er I mean… you know why, sweetie. It’s got some swear words in it.
Child: What? Like, you’re worried I’m going to go and repeat them to my teacher or something?
Me: (wearily) Yes. Something like that.
Child: Actually – I got in trouble with Daddy the other day, over words.
Me: Why? What happened?
Child: We were on our canal boat and I made him play at sailors with me. He’s so bossy and he always wants to be the Captain though. I have to put up with being the First Mate everytime. So anyway, we were doing the throw the rope thing – tying it up along the towpath and trying not to fall in the dog poo and all of that….and we were doing funny sailor-type voices.
Child: And – well I forgot the word – I’d been trying to think of a good word that sailors might have called each other in the old days. I meant to shout ‘Scallywag!’ at him, but it came out wrong.
Me: Right. So what did you shout?
Child: I yelled “Oi! Chuck me the rope, you SCUMBAG!”
Me: Oh dear. What did your dad say?
Child: He was trying to act all cross and crabby, but he couldn’t really because the people on the boat next to us were laughing.
Me: (to 6 year old son) Look – this is the font where you were baptised in as a baby. See how someone has carved it so beautifully into the shape of an angel. It’s incredibly old, this font. The vicar dipped your head into the water here. You were so cute and small! And some people believe that it makes a baby belong to God more if you do that, but I’m not sure what….
Child: ARRGHHH ARGHHHH ARGHHHHHH! (running away)
Me: What are you doing? Ssssh! Stop it – come back!
Child: (calling over to me) ARGGGHHH NO WAY! I’M NOT GOING NEAR THAT THING!!!
Me: Don’t be silly! What’s wrong?
Child: It’s the Angel of Death! It’s going to bite me!
Me: What on earth are you on about? What makes you say that?
Child: It’s in a song! A song that she’s always singing at me – she sings it in my ear all of the time – Moses and the Angel of Death – what bites people.
Me: Ah. Your sister. Has she been singing scary songs at you again?
Child: Yes. And she tells me about this Angel what smears blood all down your bedroom door and they GET the firstborn boy – and that’s me. And I’d better stop stealing all of her comic books. I’d better watch it, or else – the Angel will bite me.
Me: I think that she means ‘smite’ you dear, but… Whatever.