Keep your mouth shut at the school gate

Sometimes it’s better not to say anything at the school gate. That reputed snakepit of gossip, politics, cliques and scrutiny. And if you are foolish enough to open your big mouth, then it really is best to shut it again as soon as possible.

 Because carrying on won’t help. Oh no. The hole will just take on cavernous proportions, the better to echo your indiscretion.

I don’t know if this applies particularly to fathers – women and other adults may be equally stupid. You tell me.

But this afternoon I had the pleasure of watching a dad’s foot accelerate towards his mouth. Rather than braking or steering away from trouble, he went into crash test dummy mode.

It was only a slight slip to begin with. Having called his tardy children over to go home, he muttered “Asshole.”

Sounds far worse when written down than it was when he said it. Say it in a funny accent and it sounds stage Chinese. Which is how I tried to gloss over it – deliberating misrepeating it as “Ah so.”

But the small children weren’t fooled. They berated him in mock outrage. But it was all still low tones at this point.

“That’s the trouble with living in such a nice polite place,” he said. “If you even say something as innocuous as ‘buttocks’ , you’ll have parental eyebrows rising all around you.”


He should have just left it and moved on.

Or moved away from the throng at the very least.

Because this next part of the conversation wouldn’t have happened in front of everyone else at the school gate.

Honesty compelled the earnest and by now loudly indignant child to declare:

“But you don’t say buttocks. You say bollocks. Bollocks!

And bollock off.

And piss.

And piss off.


And so it went on.

Collapse of stout party. Head down. Exit to audience glee.

To be fair, I should point out that the mouth into which that foot was so deeply embedded, belongs to one of the most charming and polite souls you could hope to meet. And the details have been blurred to protect the guilty. And our school gate gatherings are positively divine and benign. (Am I laying it on a bit thick there? Can’t hurt. Still weeks till the summer holidays. Many more school gate pickups to go.)

So before you open your big fat gob next time, remember Helen Lovejoy’s plaintiff warning from The Simpsons“What about the children?! Won’t somebody please think of the children!?” Too right. They’re almost certainly listening. The crafty wee buggers. Oops. No. Beggars. I said beggars. Or boogers. Shhh. Quick, time to go home.



Filed under In the village

14 responses to “Keep your mouth shut at the school gate

  1. Politically correct has taken all the fun out of being a white male in America. But it IS politically correct to blame white males for everything and make that group the brunt of jokes and ridicule with racial slurs.

    • blackwatertown

      Still fun over here. Time for a visit maybe.
      Though here too blokes – white, black, whatever – are the acceptable brunt of jokes. And the Welsh, for some reason.
      Doesn’t mean people aren’t making politically incorrect jokes about women as well.

  2. I think “buttocks!” is an excellent swear. Shall appropriate it.

  3. Ah I wouldn’t worry too much, I’m guessing they know all the curse words back to front and some . . . I’m still learning a few from my two and they’re in their 20’s.

  4. Carl is right about the way it is in America. Still, you need to …

    Put brain in gear before mouth in motion.

  5. I wonder if you read After all these years, the impact is still very relevant!

  6. As a youngster we weren’t allowed to swear (unless we wanted to chew and swallow raw horseradish). But my mom said we could say, “Sacramento!” There’s lots of syllables and when said with GUSTO sounds like a great swear word!

  7. There are two schools close to my house and swarms of parents and progeny in all directions, but I’ve never heard any of them swearing. We’re terribly polite in Belfast, you know. Except when we’re rioting.

  8. I’ve always thought that it’s good to talk at the school gate. Primary school parents, specifically first time parents, and particularly the mothers, have a tendency to hide behind a facade of contentment and domestic bliss. Their child is happy and perfect. Their home life is happy and perfect. This is utter bollocks obviously. Everyone is worried about something. And the fact that everyone else’s lives are apparently happy and perfect just makes you feel all the more worried and rotten. Whilst these competitive facades are maintained, the school gate is an oppressive environment. And the first parent to “blink” and admit that everything in the garden isn’t actually rosy opens the emotional floodgates for everyone else. It’s a blessed relief. What was an oppressive environment is transformed into an invaluable, long term support group.

  9. LoL…great blog 🙂 Took some time to stop laughing before commenting was possible! Think the worst I heard from my parents was “hells bells!!” You knew there was trouble then! 🙂

  10. I’m sure I’ve heard swearing in an around the school gate (Nick, you must live in a politer part of town than I do), but there’s also a lot of support and tears and laughing. Either our school gate is remarkably uncompetitive, or I’m in a world of my own and just haven’t noticed how everyone looks down on me 🙂

  11. In Yorkshire, the lollypoplady would cane you with her instrument …………

  12. @Tim – Please do. I’ll look out for it.
    @ Baino – I’ve noticed that too, but in unexpected ways. One of mine was going on about jobbies today. I asked him if he realised that was what Billy Connolly used to call poos?
    @ Maxi – Maybe so, but as you know only too well – you can’t let the ****s grind you down.
    @ Rummuser – Lovely post you linked to – the comments on it appear to be closed – so I’m telling you here.
    @ Laurie – Sacramento works. To my secret shame i find myself blurting out “flippididee” even when there’s no one around and I could say what I like. I get it from my Mum.
    @ Nick – clearly you’re saving your energy for the rioting.
    @ Phil – Actually you’ve summed it up for me. At one extreme I recall daring to approach the blondest, slimmest, most tanned uber-mom for a chat, only for her to close her mobile phone and surprisingly admit that she had only been pretending to be on the phone because she had no one to talk to. Very sad. On the other hand, when minor calamity or sickness struck our family help and support materialised instantly – which did not surprise me at all.
    @ speccy – I think you an dphil an dI have kids at the same school.
    @ spicewolf – Your mum was Mr Teresa and your dad St Francis of Assisi (ooh – scandal!)
    @ Tony – a belt with the lollipop stick would have sorted him out for sure.

  13. Bethany

    Oh great altogether.
    You have a new reader.

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