“How was the birthday party?” I asked David as we walked down the aisle of Costco. I had just picked him up from his first solo excursion into social life. He stopped short and looked up at me with a troubled expression. “Well, it was fun, but there was this one girl and she was kind of mean. And she said the “F” word.”
I felt a sick knot in the pit of my stomach. We never spoke that particular word, and as far as I knew, my five-year-old son shouldn’t even have been familiar with the term “the F word”.
“Oh honey,” I squatted down to make eye contact with him. “I’m so sorry.” I hesitated, and then leaned closer to him. “Would you please whisper into mommy’s ear exactly what words the little girl said?”
(I needed to know. Had she said “the F word” or had she, in the immortal words of Ralphie, actually uttered “the queen mother of all curse words”?)
Nodding solemnly, aware of the gravity of the moment, my little son put his mouth close to my ear and whispered, “Stupid.”
Masking the relief that washed over me, I composed my face into a proper look of horror and sadness and whispered, “STUPID, oh David, that is a bad, bad word. I hope you will never ever say it!”
And I thought, “Next week we’ll get to work on your spelling.”