May I remind you of my recent pursed lip response to Bruno’s reading homework, Captain Underpants and the Big Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, after which he came home with dishwater material for a few weeks- still, dishwater composed of real-ish words.
Imagine the self-righteous excitement the subsequent appearance of Stink stirred in my somnambulant loins.
I had won the first battle, but this! What else but a declaration of WAR?!
I imagined that having dedicated lonely nights to finding the dullest books ever committed to paper (in order to drive home the point that cartoon profanity stories are fun and engaging) the teacher had decided enough was enough and Bang! she’d take out that chip on my shoulder.
In fact, Bruno had chosen it because he thought it looked fun and engaging.
For the second time, I scribbled a note:
Hello, Bruno’s Mum again. This book is American and full of slang. Do you have any English books, please? Th-u. Smiley face.
(The last two bits of my message were supposed to communicate subliminally that Look, I use text language and cartoon imagery and I’m an uptight prig- what’s going to become of my offspring if he isn’t even made to learn uptightness and priggery? He’ll become a career language criminal, that’s what!)
Whereupon, the prodigal son brought home another pet story and order was restored until…
…Mr Gum was out on the table and I was back to patiently explaining that ‘strangery’ rhymes with ‘mange’ and not ‘fang’ and it’s not even a bloody word in the firstery place.
Whilst perhaps not quite as conspicuously odious as the other offenders, this one had the following on its cover (and I barely paraphrase): ‘So this book’s about Mr.Gum, right? And he does this, yeah? And he’s SO no doing that. So it’s dead fab, got it? Ok, see ya!’
Inside, it had Zoe Ball dumbing down to praise its contents along the lines of, ‘This wordy turd is a well wicked read.’
Next day, traumatised child tells the teacher Fascist Mum’s gone off on one again and this reply materialises in the homework book, penned in tight little writing.
Dear Mrs Stout,
We will change Bruno’s book to a more traditional one but it might be helpful if he encounters slang because we discuss non-traditional uses of language as it appears in SATS papers- as do speech bubbles (in more comic forms of literature).
The upshot is, I’m going to run with the wolves.
I’m going to start crunching scary statistics on the percentage of primary school children who don’t speak English as their first language because I no longer have to worry that it’s the teachers who are making my child a dunce:
Hey, Miss Wotsit- whassssuuuuuuuuuupppp?
So, groovy, yeah, I’m totes on board with the whole alternative English learning thing.
I can see I’ve been cramping your style something chronic with all my traditional crap, running bonkers through the library like Cath Kidston in a bonnet- it’s SICK!
I thought 6 years old might encounter slang helpfully in the playground but it’s great the National Curriculum wants them to actually sit down* and study it.
It means I can stop boxing B’s ears judiciously for spelling ‘fart’ with a ‘ph’. (I’ve put that chunk of language in a speech bubble- whaddoyasay? I mean, it’s just no FUN without one, right?)
Where the hell’s he going in life without getting the basics down, right, yeah? Certainly to a no-good, shit, arsebag, pimplefink secondary school- I can tell you that for starteries.
In fact, why stop at comics and American slang? Have some fun, woman! How ’bout some porn? A couple of BNP pamphlets? A bit of Jeffrey Archer?
Pirate adventures are for sissies!
I’m warming to the wise-cracking kids dissing each other and their parents in all your Stink, Bum, Shit stories- it’s cool.
Plus, unless a joke’s based around an audible bodily function, I’m sorry but it’s JUST NOT FUNNY.
So keep at it, Sister, and Respect.
Yours sarcastically (a non-traditional, highly enjoyable use of language)
Mistress Underpants and the Great Big Oleaginous, Scatological English National Curriculum Bonnet Bee xx
*that’s a split infinitive. I said a split infinitive. It’s when you… oh, forget it. It’s all a bunch of bollocks, innit?