Tuesday, November 21, 2006

You Can't Shelter Them Forever

"Someone wrote a word in the girls bathroom," Kailey nonchalantly offered between bites of pizza.

It was dinner-time. Diane was working late (which she doesn't really do that often...it just seems that way in my writings) and we were on the tail-end of one of our hectic Mondays. Fortunately for me, my sister-in-law, Debbie, is in town for Thanksgiving and was there to help take up the slack.

We turned our full attention toward Kailey, our curiosity suddenly aroused by her statement. A pregnant silence filled room around us. Something deep inside me did not want to know what was written on the wall of the girls bathroom of CW elementary school. I fought the question inside me that begged to be asked. Debbie asked it for me.

"What word did they write, Sweetie?"

I don't think I will ever forget the image of my oldest daughter in that moment: sitting perfectly erect in her chair, head slightly cocked, eyes sparkling with confidence as though she was the only one in the world who knew the right answer. She looked completely innocent, though much older and more mature than her seven years. I've noticed recently that those glimpses of maturity are coming with greater regularity. My little girl is growing up more quickly than I would like. I braced myself.

"Fuck you."

Her delivery was quick, clear, and crisp. Her manner, matter-of-fact. She didn't move. She didn't giggle or laugh like she delivered the punch line to a great joke. She didn't scan our faces to try to gauge whether or not it was wrong for her to say those words. She simply told us what was written on the wall of the girls bathroom. Then she sat there.

So did we. A small smirk emerged on my face as I slowly turned my gaze from my precious little girl to Aunt Debbie. The look on her face was an odd mix of amusement and horror. YOU NEVER ASK WHAT IS WRITTEN ON THE WALL OF THE GIRLS BATHROOM! It's like the U.S. Military...don't ask, don't tell, and all will be fine. I took a deep breath and turned back to Kailey. We're venturing out into uncharted territory here.

"Do you know that that's a bad word?" I asked.

"No."

"OK. Well, it is. You're not in trouble and I'm not mad at you. That's a bad word and I don't want you to ever say it again, OK?"

"OK," she replied. "But what does it mean?"

Kailey obviously witnessed a great ruckus in the girls bathroom over those two little words, and she didn't get it. Curiosity fueled our dinner-time chat. But a full explanation would open about ten more cans of worms. And I'm not opening one of those cans without Diane. In fact, I might let Diane handle ALL of those cans. She's definitely in charge of the can opener. I told Kailey that I couldn't fully explain what it meant, but that it was just a very mean thing to say to someone. Thank goodness she seemed to accept that.

For now...


2 comments:

The Beast Mom said...

That reminds me of the day B came home from kindegarten with his buddy and they were calling each other "penis breath". Did I mention that this was KINDERGARTEN? Yeah. Nice. I knew the day would arrive when my son and his friends would rev up their Universal Male Crassness Motors and begin the endless days of snickering and such, but KINDEGARTEN? Ok, I give up now.

On that lovely note, hope you have a good Thanksgiving!
-bm

the battered ham said...

Lovely! Sounds like someone had been watching "ET" (that's "The Extra Terrestrial", not "Entertainment Tonight"). Last year, Diane and I made the mistake of laughing when Kyra inadvertently said "cock". She had no idea what it meant, but that's all it took. She continually tested me on it until I physically held the soap (something I swore I'd never do as a parent) right up to her mouth. I haven't heard it since.

I get to work on Thanksgiving, but thanks anyway. You guys have a good one, too.