We’ve had some trouble around here lately. I mean other than the power being out for a week. We’ve recovered from that. Aside from an empty fridge and a pile of laundry, we are back.
No, this kind of trouble is the kind that comes out of the mouths of babes. My babes to be exact.
My fourth grader came home and told me about an “incident”at school. He said a bad word. He was caught. He had to go to the principal’s office. Spend the next day in her office during recess. End of story.
Good parents as we are, we talked to our son about making good choices, what kinds of words are appropriate for school, for a Boy Scout, for a kid who wants to be a role model on the student council. He agreed he screwed up big time and learned from his mistake.
In a letter to his principal, part of his school-imposed penance, my son said he has seen the error in his ways and would “never, ever” do it again. He’s 9 so the “never ever again” part, well, we’ll see. I am hopeful, but not naive.
So as it was, when her brother was writing the letter to his principal, my kindergarten daughter was hanging around. Half-coloring, half-listening to our conversation. She knows her brother got in trouble. She knows he went to the principal’s office. And she knows that, aside from delivering the attendance list, it’s not a place where you want to have to spend time.
She is also five and is curious.
She wanted to see what would happen if she said a bad word.
So, as nonchalantly as possible, she dropped this one on me. “Mom, what is a penis?”
Oh just great.
So as grown up as I could possibly try to be, I let her know that we don’t talk about private parts or say bad words at home or at school. I said I certainly do not want my daughter going around saying words like that in our house, or at school, and the next kid who said a bad word was going to get his or her mouth washed out with soap.
I played the scene in my mind of Ralphie standing in his bathroom following the incident with the F-bomb and his friend Schwartz. I love that movie!
So about the soap — I feel that I am the only one who needed to know this was an idle threat.
That was last night.
This morning, my daughter came down stairs and she looked worried.
When I asked her what was wrong, the tears started. She said she was afraid that her brain would make her say a bad word and that she needed to get her mouth clean before school. She cried and begged me to wash her mouth out with soap so she didn’t say any bad word and end up having to go see the principal.
Poor little thing.
I explained that it didn’t work that way, that the soap was for after the bad word was already spoken. I told her that soap really doesn’t taste good and that she should trust herself that she wouldn’t say anything bad because she is a good girl.
She was stomping her foot and demanding through her tears that I clean her mouth out NOW!
I marched her into the bathroom, grabbed the soap and told her to open wide, assured that this little exercise would end there.
Now before you go and think I am a big meanie, I didn’t actually stick the soap in her mouth, but she did taste it for a nanosecond, if that.
I asked her how she felt and if she thought the soap did the trick.
She looked at me, said “Bunny”, smiled and said “Yes. I think so.”
I think she’s cured. No bad words will be leaving her clean mouth today.
If only everything could be that easy.