BigBrother came home from school one day last week with a frown on his face. That’s unusual for my happy-go-lucky, school-is-awesome oldest son. I asked him what happened. He began to tell me about what sounded like a normal “you-aren’t-doing-what-I-want-you-to-do-so-I-don’t-want-to-be-your-friend” type of elementary school altercation. The parties involved and the issue at hand isn’t important because, as of this week, all parties are friends again, happily playing together at recess.
But BigBrother was mightily upset at the time. He was using all of his facial expressions that mean Serious Business.
“Mommy, he said a bad word.”
“Oh yeah? What word did he say?
A dramatic pause. “The b-word.”
I blinked. What kind of Kindergartener uses the b-word? I tried to think of what I knew about this child’s parents. Did they regularly use the b-word? Or maybe, like me, maybe the mom occasionally forgot that the children were in the car when complete a-words pulled out in front of her in traffic. Ahem. I decided to move forward with my line of questioning. Mainly because I was curious.
“What’s the b-word?”
An even more dramatic pause, if at all possible. “BUTTCHEEKS.”
You have no idea how hard it was for me not to laugh in my six-year-old son’s face. I had to swallow. Hard. And stare at the corner where the walls meet the ceiling across the dining room. I kept swallowing to keep myself from smiling. BigBrother was, at the time, mortally wounded. I needed to respond accordingly. I couldn’t laugh in his face. I just couldn’t.
Once I composed myself, I empathized with him and talked about how some words really can hurt others’ feelings. We hugged a bit and he went off to play with his brother. Who, by the way, he called a “meanis,” which does rhyme with what you think it rhymes with, when he wouldn’t play what he wanted to play. Apparently lessons about names are short-lived.
I chuckled to myself and made note to
blog this story tell FireDad later.
Later happened in the car where most of our family’s important conversations take place.
We rehashed the story again, FireDad not doing the same stellar job at not laughing as I did. My laugh-happy husband did bring it back in to the “words can hurt other people” and “that’s why we are careful with the words we choose.”
A pause from the back seat. “Yeah, we don’t choose the letter words.”
FireDad and I exchanged a look. I spoke. “The letter words?”
“Yeah, you know. The a-word, the b-word, the h-word, the s-word.”
I started to get worried at that point. Did he really know all of those words? I mean, those words did have associated “bad” words to them. Did my six-year-old know what the s-word was? We already knew that he thought the b-word was buttcheeks, but did he know the h-word? The a-word? What other letter words did he know? I started mentally composing yet another post about how Kindergarten expanded my child’s vocabulary in ways I could never have imagined and certainly didn’t appreciate.
He continued from the back seat. “The z-word.”
And we both lost it at that point. FireDad and I giggled and snickered and snorted and laughed. BigBrother started laughing too, not quite aware that we were laughing mainly because we were glad that our kid didn’t know a wealth of “ugly” words. He was just happy to hear laughter, to join in. We eventually simmered down and, one more time, brought it back to remembering how important it is to choose your words wisely, to be careful with others’ feelings. No letter words. Especially no z-words.
He may not know what all the words are behind the letters, but he’s learning to be careful with the words he does choose.
And, thankfully, we’re having a good time while we learn. Just don’t make me call you a z-word or flip you the bird — like I may or may not have done to the PTA President. Whoops?