Children are little tape recorders. You make one random, off-handed remark about a neighbor, and before you know it, you overhear it being played back to you later that same day (“What does ‘Bipolar’ mean again, Mom?”). For this reason, The Husband and I have had to taper back our gossip a bit.
It's like living with midget Saints. Saint Tall and Saint Short bop around our house, going about their business of playing LEGOs or Pokémon or doing their spelling homework, all the time secretly noting any interesting conversational infraction that has occurred.
Some tip off words and phrases that seem to garner the most unwanted attention: liar, promiscuous, quit his job again, unreliable, flake, obese, drug-addict, repossessed, wasted, jail, irresponsible, cheap, obnoxious, cheated on, extravagant, lazy, or any word of the four-letter variety. For some reason, if one of these words makes it into a chat about a movie star, distant relative, acquaintance, or even fictitious character, the house becomes deadly quiet and a three-foot shadow appears in the doorway.
“I don’t think she's obese, Mommy, she might just be big-boned.”
Much monitoring of words goes on in my head, but it is hard to talk about sunshine and puppies and Christmas every day.
When the kids first started being able to mimic us, we took to whispering, spelling words out, or even communicating in Spanish (however, since I am the only one in our household who can speak Spanish 101, The Husband had a difficult time keeping up; we were forced to nix this method). We started writing things down, but who wants to find notes scattered around the house later that read, “bizarro telemarketer” or “mean lady at the bank.”
Instead, The Husband and I lock eyes and say a terse, “We’ll talk about it later,” which we all know is code for “We’ll talk about it never.”