So I’m just leaving the library with Short, when I run into my girlfriend Gina and her toddler. We chat for a couple minutes, I’m genuinely happy to see her, and then it happens. The toddler commits an unspeakable transgression. Well, not so much “unspeakable” as “unrepeatable.” He says something so mean, so vile, that Gina immediately grips his little paw, leans down to him, and says sternly, “No, Bryce! That is not okay! We do NOT call Short’s mommy that word!”
Wait—what word? I didn’t hear what Bryce said. Can your repeat the bad word, Bryce? So I can tell if the word is on my List, too, or if Gina is being overly-dramatic?
Gina turns a Valentine's medley of about 12 shades of red, she is so embarrassed, and starts apologizing profusely. “I’m so, so sorry, MOV, I have no idea where he first heard that word, it’s not a word that Steve and I ever say, I’m so sorry.” She looks like she might cry, like she was the one who said The Word.
I lean in to Gina and give her a semi-hug (she’s trying to wrangle Bryce, who’s trying to get away), and I whisper, “It’s okay, Gina, not a big deal.”
But is it a big deal? What was The Word? Was it of the four-letter variety, the kind of word that one could consider “verbal assault,” and actually take someone (okay, not a toddler) to court over? Was I cussed out by a two-year-old? Or was it something relatively benign, like “poopy-head,” because, let’s be honest, that’s a phrase I've heard bandied around my own house once or twice by a frustrated four-year-old, possibly even as recently as this morning.
Short is grinning, like perhaps he heard The Word in question. Should I ask him what The Word was when we get out to the car? Or would that reinforce the negative connotations of The Word, and now he would run around repeating it at every opportunity?
I decide to go with the three-step approach of Option B: ignore, ignore, ignore. If I simply ignore what Bryce said, maybe everyone (even Gina) will forget it ever happened.
We say goodbye to Gina and Bryce; Short and I pick our books up off the check-out desk, and start to walk out. Short's grin has taken over his little face, he is all Chiclet teeth and chapped lips. He starts giggling to himself.
We get to the car, and I help him with his seatbelt. “I’ve got it, Mommy,” he insists. Then he starts laughing again.
I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself. “Short, Short, what is it? What is so funny?”
More laughing. Kicking of the feet to accompany the laughter that is (most likely) at Mommy’s expense. “Bryce said …”
I wait. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. He won’t tell me.
“Bryce said … Bryce called you … a witch!” More giggles. “Isn’t that so silly, Mommy? Because you don’t even have a broom!”
That’s okay, Bryce, I’ve been called worse.
(“Mama Or Vulgarity?”)