He danced in the fresh air, arms stretched upward to the spring sunshine, elated to be outdoors with his favorite person: me.
My four-year-old relished our one-on-one time; when his younger sister napped, he got Mom all to himself. And on this day, he requested we head outside for a game of cornhole. Well-versed in tailgate games (*parents of the year*), my little man was having a blast flinging those bean bags, celebrating every toss. Each one that landed on the board elicited a satisfied giggle; on the occasion that it made its way into the hole, he morphed into Tiger Woods (pre-philandering douchebaggery), pumping his little arms as though he had just won The Masters.
Then the bee.
To a child, a bumblebee is a nuisance at best, a blood sucking, life-threatening menace at worst. My son found himself torn between being annoyed by the pesky bug and terrified he would meet his ultimate demise within a matter of seconds. Red bean bag held high, ready to strike, he flung his body around the yard to dodge the buzzing pest.
Bobbing, weaving, ducking.
I reminded him to stay calm.
Flailing, running, shrieking.
It was too late. Any semblance of our peaceful cornhole game was but a fleeting memory, as that asshole bee continued to mercilessly dive-bomb my kid.
And then he had had enough. His limit was met, nary an ounce of dignity left in his sweaty insect-deflecting body:
“This fuckin’ bee won’t leave me alone!”
I stopped in my tracks, sucking all the oxygen out of the atmosphere. I wrestled with an inner dialogue for what felt like an eternity:
Did he just say the F-word? Did my beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed angel drop an F-BOMB? Ohmygoodness, is it my fault? Has he heard ME say it? Probably. My husband is the patient saint who never slips in front of the kids. MAYBE IF HE WERE THE STAY AT HOME PARENT HE WOULDN’T BE SO PATIENT! Wait. Focus. THE KID SAID THE F-WORD. I need to address this. Like, now. Okay, calm down and don’t make a big deal. AND STOP LAUGHING. It is HILARIOUS, though, isn’t it?! Stop it.
“Hey, buddy?” *snort, giggle* “Where’d you hear that word?”
“Hmmm…probably Pap Tom.”
DAMMIT DAD! Of course it had to be my side of the family. Okay, I’m laughing. I can’t control it. This is bad. I’ll pretend the tears are because I’m sad, not stifling a laugh. Thank god for these sunglasses.
Hand covering my smirk, I exhale, “I see. Well, it’s not a nice word, did you know that? So we can’t say it because it hurts other people’s feelings.”
*Perfectly-timed teardrop rolls down cheek*
“See? It makes people sad. It would make Gramma SO sad if she ever heard you say that word.”
*Pats self on back* Excellent work. Using Gramma as leverage is pure genius.
The boy stared at me.
“Oh. Can we keep playing the game now?”
Okay, good talk.
And that was that. Until his sister said it.
Two years after The Bee Incident, my 4-year-old daughter came waltzing into the kitchen, announcing her requests for breakfast. As she sat at the table like royalty waiting to be served, we began talking about what we would do later in the day.
“We’re going to do some school shopping later. Are you excited?”
“Is fuckin’ a bad word?”
I stopped moving, mid-milk pour.
Here we go again, I thought. Just for kicks…
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. What did you say?”
“Is fuckin’ a bad word?”
“Yes, it’s a bad word. Have you heard Mommy or Daddy say it?”
“It’s not a nice word; it hurts people’s feelings, which is why even grown-ups like Mommy and Daddy try not to say it.”
Lies. When she’s older, we’ll discuss why the F-word is, in fact, one of Mommy and Daddy’s favorite words. It’s so versatile, perfect for almost any occasion!
I looked at my daughter, who was sitting quietly. Though known world-wide for ruffling her parents’ feathers, my gal is sincerely bothered by any emotional upset. This is the kid who doesn’t like soccer because stealing the ball from the other team is mean, and stealing is bad. From the thoughtful expression on her face, I anticipated an earnest, “Mummy! I will never, EVER say that very bad word again!”
“Mummy, I have to go see my fweind who lives ac-woss da stweet.”
“Why is that?”
“To say saw-wee for tellin’ her fuckin’ yesterday.”
Well, then. There go our chances of being invited to neighborhood barbecues.
By the time kid #3 starts talking, I’m going to be totally prepared to handle her initial F-bomb: “Can you repeat that, peanut? Mommy has to press record.”
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