terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Epiphanic Exclamations

Was at the coffee shop downstairs waiting for my atas* mee pok when two schoolboys (no more than Primary Three or Four and from a rather renown school in white and blue), in the midst of a usual schoolboy tiff, let out a "fuckin' hell!"

A very loud one, I might add, that also involved the flinging of a cold, icy snack.

That, of course, drew the attention of everyone at the coffee shop.

I was watching the two men at the next table and the expressions on their faces that went from outrage at the use of the f-word, then more outrage at the realisation that it had been spoken by primary-school-aged boys, and finally, the oh-shit moment when they realised they have children at that age. (Of course, it's pure speculation on my part for the last bit -- I don't claim to be able to read everyone at one glance -- but the shock on their faces was pretty funny.)

What I found amazing was that, up until that moment, the two men were happily swearing in various languages in their own conversation. That they would feel outrage that children are using foul language as well was beyond me. But the [hypothetical] realisation that they had children the same age as the foul-mouthed boys and that they may be just as foul-mouthed is something I find really interesting.

Especially if I juxtapose this with my experience as an ADM (and, briefly, DM).

I've dealt with parents whose opinion of their children is not grounded in reality. Obviously at that age, children are learning about home-faces and outside-faces. And unfortunately for these parents, the realisation that their children's outside-faces aren't the angelic ones they are used to sometimes comes as a shock. Some parents adapt and work with the school. Others, and I can name them on one hand, take the other approach and view their children as victims of the school's malicious campaign to smear them and their reputation. These are the ones who would eventually resort to threats of litigation and/or complaining to TPTB (usually their MP -- because their MPs have nothing better to do than to defend a recalcitrant pubescent wrong-doer).

I've a feeling the two men fall into the latter category.

Somewhere out there, some teacher is feeling vindicated and can't explain why.


* (ah-tahs) Malay for "upstairs", it describes someone as snobbish, hoity-toity, affected or arrogant. Source: The Coxford Singlish Dictionary.

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