We were recently sitting at the supper table when my six-year-old casually informed us that his classmate had said a bad word that day.
“The ‘S’ word”, he told us, studying our faces.
Having survived the ‘F’ word revelation with his older brother, I stayed pretty chill.
“Really?”, I replied, feigned-consternation on point. “What ‘S’ word did he say?”.
“You know”, he said, sheepishly.
Of course I knew. I say “shit” three-hundred-and-twelve times a day. But the one thing I’ve managed to somehow avoid these past nine years is swearing in front of the kids.
“Please don’t make me say it”, he replied, his little voice quivering as he shifted uncomfortably.
“It’s ok, dude, you don’t have to say it”, I assured him.
And the conversation unfolded beautifully…
6 year-old: Do you know what word it was though?
Me: I think so.
6 year-old: Say it.
Me: I don’t wanna say it, buddy. It’s not a nice word.
6 year-old: Please?
Me: Why do you want me to say it?
6 year-old: Please, mom.
Me: Okay. (*leaning close to him, whispering*): Shit.
6 year-old: Nope.
6 year-old: That’s not the word.
Me: What do you mean?
6 year-old: That’s not the ‘S” word. It’s worse.
Me (*thinking*): ‘S’ word worse than “shit”? What the fuck? Sex? Oh God, I wish it was just “shit”. (*aloud*): Was it something like (*whispering*) S-E-X?
6 year-old: What’s that?
Me: (*mouthing without breathing*) Sex?
6 year-old: Huh?
Me (*mouthing more aggressively now, in slow motion, teeth bared for some reason, making a nasal sound that in no way contributes to the enunciation of the word*): Sex?
6 year-old: (*disappointed by the lack of excitement in whatever the shit it was his old lady just said*): Ummm, no, I don’t fink dat’s a word.
Me: Oh ok, umm… (*thinking*): What the actual fuck? Shit, sex… What other ‘S’ word is there? (*dawning realization*): No way. There’s no way he heard– (*aloud* *less like I’m at the dinner table with my family and more like I’m on Family Feud*): –SLUT!
6 year-old: (*confusion frown*): No. (*pause for intense, silent eye-contact before…*): It’s way worse.
Me (*thinking*): What the… Is it scrotum? It can’t be scrotum. He knows “scrotum” – i.e. the hilarious word for his “bean bag”. Ok, think, think, think. ‘S’-words. If it’s not slut, probably not skank either… (*aloud* *desperately*): Snatch?
6 year-old (*befuddled* *looking around the table for confirmation that his mother is, indeed, losing it with these nonsense words*): Mom, do you want me to just tell you the word?
Me: Oh God, yes, please.
6 year-old: But you won’t get mad?
Me: Absolutely. I will not get mad, I appreciate your honesty.
6 year-old: Are you ready?
Me (*holding my breath and nodding vigorously, smiling but anticipating shock; in hindsight, I likely appeared less “encouraging” and more “like I’m holding in painful gas”*): Mm-hmmm.
6 year-old: (*leaning in, whispering with both hands cupped around his mouth*): Stupid.
Me (*nodding more aggressively to match the freshly ignited self-loathing*): Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yep, that’s a bad one, buddy.