Bad Words

At the big family Christmas gathering this year, the kids once again congregated at a single table. All but Jane, that is, she having decided to work on her grown-up skills and sit with her parents at a different table.

This meant the table consisted of 10 year old Daryl, my 10 year old niece, her 8 year old brother, 5 year old Hal, and my cousin’s 2 or 3 year old boy, who seemed to be in awe of his cousins. In such a scenario, a kid like Hal is bound to get hyper and try to show off. He has to demonstrate that he belongs with the “older” crowd and try his best to impress the “baby”.

After a few minutes at the table, the three oldest swarmed our table, each talking over the others in an attempt to let us know what horrible sin Hal had committed. Daryl’s voice finally won out and he explained that Hal had said S-E-X.

Hal looked up from the table, and drunk with the shocked attention he was receiving, asked, “What? Sex?”

My two aunts at my table looked up at me with wide eyes. My uncle grinned. A cousin stifled a laugh. My brother looked my way.

“Hal,” I said, “Come here.”

I just love those moments where you get to parent in full view of all the people who watched you grow up. Will she keep her cool? Will she be stern enough? What kind of parent is she anyway? Let’s all watch and see.

He came over to the table and I gave him a hug, leaning close in to his ear. “Honey, I know that you are trying to impress your cousins. I get that. But you simply can’t say words like that. You don’t understand what they mean. So I need you to keep those words in your head instead of letting them come out of your mouth, ok?”

He nodded solemnly and began to shuffle back to his table. As he progressed, the shuffle became a walk and then a trot. He bounced into his chair and called out triumphantly, “I’M SAYING BAD WORDS IN MY HEAD!!”