The bad word


I love the car ride to school.

Okay, let me clarify. I do not love driving, and do not love traffic, and do not love the fact that I’m somehow expected to be an alert, sentient, defensive driver at 8 in the morning. But what I do love is this: the strange and often fabulous conversations we enjoy along the way.

Like today’s, in which we had a vocabulary lesson. All About Bad Words, Part I.

The Maiden and the Man were working through the Potato Chip Science kit last weekend (highly recommended, by the way), and one of the experiments was called “Spud Crud.” The Maiden wanted to bring it to school for show and tell before it “went bad” (read: Mommy got sick of seeing it and popped it in the trash while the Maiden was at school), but she was concerned. Would she be allowed to say the name at school?

“Mommy, is ‘crud’ the c-word?”

Me: !!!!!!!!!!!

It turns out that her tap dance teacher has a sheet on the classroom wall with a list of “Ms. K’s rules.” Mostly things like “No tapping while Ms. K is talking,” but others regulate dancers’ vocabulary. One restriction: “No saying the c-word.”

I told the Maiden it was “crap.” Yep, sometimes lying to your child is a very good thing.

Then she remembered more of the rules. In Ms. K’s tap class, you are also not allowed to say the b-word, which according to the Maiden is “butt.”

The s-word is also off-limits. “You know what that is, right Mommy?”

I gulped, remembering that time when I dropped something on my foot. “Yeeeeees, I think I do.”

She wanted me to say it because she was too embarrassed. I refused, obviously. “You know it, it’s in my Bone comic book,” she said.

Me: !!!!!!!! (I had read those books and did not remember seeing the “s-word.”)

She prompted me: “Something something rat creatures?”

Aha. “Stupid, stupid rat creatures.” “Stupid,” a word which we banned when she was 2 and wouldn’t stop saying it about everything.

I told the Maiden she was right. After all, Ms. K probably doesn’t want people saying “stupid” in her class either.

Unfortunately the Maiden won’t stay 5 forever, and her vocabulary will expand in possibly unpleasant ways. But no matter what, especially when tap dancing, may she always avoid the Terrible Trio of Unmentionable Words: Crap. Butt. And Stupid.

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