“Mom, I want to talk to you about the S word.”
Those are the words that my oldest boy spoke to me after dinner last night. My breath caught for a moment and I wondered if this was it. Was it time to acknowledge that his innocence had been lowered one notch on the Innocence Meter? And what shady character was the one to breach my son’s placement on said meter, anyway?
But, I maintained my cool with ease and told him I would be glad to talk to him about it. He went on to tell me that it was in Spanish class last week that he learned the word and it’s really been on his mind for a few days to talk to me about it and the topic just couldn’t wait any longer.
Spanish class, though?
He went on to explain that they had watched a movie that was spoken in Spanish, with English subtitles. “You know, Mom, the little words that come on the bottom of the screen to tell us what they’re really saying….? Um, sub captions, I think they’re called,” he told me.
Logan’s best friend speaks fluent Spanish and whispered to my boy that one of the sub-titled words was incorrect, that in fact it was the S word.
I kept listening.
He told me vehemently that his friend would never lie to him. He never has and never, ever would. Logan trusts him completely and therefor he knew that this information was accurate.
All the while I kept thinking, in third-grade Spanish class during a movie? Really?
The movie was about an alien invasion with a bad leader named, “Corvax.” Corvax had a tendency to use the S word when speaking to his minions. You see, Logan’s friend told him that instead of subtitling the the actual word that was used, “stupid,” the movie subtitled the word as “silly,” assuming that the majority of students watching weren’t bi-lingual and therefor wouldn’t catch it. I appreciated that they were trying to protect the children from the word, “stupid.”
So…..phew! The S word was in fact NOT the S word.
But then his tone turned rather solemn and told me that he really did want to talk to me about the other S word. I told him to follow me down to the family room where we would talk about it alone for now. I braced myself. What other S word could he possibly be referring to except for the S word? Well, I suppose there would be a few, actually, but oh my goodness, lets not go there.
I asked him, then, if he really knew the S word and had he heard it from a classmate a school? He told me he did know it and seemed really upset about it. He told me he had been wanting to talk to me about it for a while. And I asked him if it was the four-letter S word and when he said it was, I thought this was surely it, then. My son had it in his brain and once it’s there, you cannot unlearn it.
But then I asked if it was the SH S word. Just still to make sure.
It was, he told me.
My poor, poor boy. But he told me he had seen it in his books that he reads at home before bed.
In a panic I wondered how that was possible? I know Chris and I don’t screen every book he reads, but we felt certain that they wouldn’t contain profanity as they are still age-appropriate! He went on to tell me that he’d seen it in his Origami Yoda books as well as in his Dragonbreath series.
I was devastated when he told me he really didn’t like seeing it scattered throughout the pages. “Oh, what had I done?” I wondered in disbelief.
And then, my sweet boy asked me this question:
“Why can’t they simply just ask each other to please be quiet , instead of telling each other to Shut up?”
The four lettered SH S word was Shut Up!
Oh thank goodness!! All of a sudden I felt like I could see his Innocence Meter notch sky-rocketing back up to the top!
But again, I kept my cool and reacted as if I had known that the S word was “Shut up” all along. I told Logan that as he gets older, the books he reads will become a little more advanced in order to emphasize the story or enhance the dramatic effect. I gave him an example from our reading of Harry Potter and told him that many times I have substituted the word stupid for silly or dumb and the words shut up for be quiet. And then we giggled as we pictured the antagonist character of Draco Malfoy shouting in a heated debate to, “Please be quiet!” Logan agreed that it didn’t quite have the same effect.
I told him I thought it was fine if he knew the words we spoke about and it was OK if he read them in the books he enjoys, we just don’t use them ourselves. Which is entirely true. Chris and I never speak the word stupid or tell anyone to shut up. We just don’t and that is probably why Logan thought they were bad words.
Innocence upon more innocence. I never want it to seem like our non-use of those words would cause our kids a disservice in being ultra-naive, but I am certainly relieved that I can, without a doubt, bide some extra time before the real S word conversation arrives.