I was discussing this story with my daughter while she was home from college on Winter break. Apparently she remembers witnessing this event- but I don't remember her being with us. The trauma must have been so great that it popped holes in my memory.
That said- here's another story about swear words....
Kelsey came home one afternoon and reported that our Andy had been observed from a high school hallway swearing up a storm. Apparently the homeroom teacher had stepped out for a moment, and a group of students thought it would be funny to encourage Andy to say "BOOK YOU" (only he didn't say book).
Andy is a literal show boat. He loves attention and laughter. He doesn't comprehend the difference between being laughed at or laughed with- which is sometimes a blessing. Those students got a big chuckle out of watching Andy yell those words, and Andy thought he was entertaining the troops.
Kids will be kids, an email was sent to school warning them of the incident- but so far, Andy hadn't demonstrated his new found skills at home. We had a family discussion at the dinner table about naughty words that night and I assumed it was all over.
A few nights later- Andy, myself (and apparently Kelsey) had to stop at Wal-Mart. As usual, Andy trotted off to the toy section. I went off to grab whatever items I needed. I remember walking through the main aisle glancing to my right, looking for my man-child amongst rows of children and parents. Eventually I found the boy.
Me: Andy, come on, its time to go.
Andy: Not yet Mom.
Me: Come on, we have to get home.
Andy: NO- 'BOOK' YOU!!
The world around us stopped moving. I was mortified. All eyes darted between Andy and I. I'm certain I turned 7 shades of red (and I'm not a blusher)! I'm almost positive this was witnessed by no less than 30 strangers...but I'm not stopping to count heads.
I took a deep breath...counted to 3, took five giant steps and grabbed him by the sleeve.
Andy: (terror is in his eyes) Mom, don't hurt me!
Me: (through clenched teeth) Lets. Go. Now.
For a child that has difficulty interpreting facial expressions, nuances, and body language- he figured out my mood rather quickly.
Andy: I'm sorry mom, I'll never say 'book' again.
I pull him towards the front of the store, looking for the shortest possible checkout line. He is trailing behind me trying to plant his heels. I haul him along with his sleeve in a death grip. I was mad, but Andy was terrified.
I can't remember what exactly it was I so desperately needed from that store, but in the past, I have been known to drop everything because of a melt down, and return later when behavior has improved. I guess that night I needed what ever I had in my hands because I marched him up to the checkout with me.
Andy is behind me, rattling on like an auctioneer, the panic is building with every word....
Andy: I'm sorry mom, I'll never say 'book' again. PLEASE don't tell Dad I said 'book'.
Me: Andy, that is enough. We'll talk about it when we get home.
Andy: Dad is gonna KILL ME!! I said 'book'! I know 'book' is a bad word. I will never say 'book' again!! PLEASE don't tell Dad that I said 'book'!! PLEEEEEASE! (with praying hands and tears)
(My eyes roll to the ceiling, a voice inside my head screams): OH DEAR LORD- PLEASE MAKE HIM STOP SAYING 'BOOK'!!!!
Finally, I turn to him, intent on calming him down...unfortunately, all I see an 80 year old woman in line behind us. Her eyes are as large as saucers, her hand is over her mouth in horror.
I got nothing. No words will make this better. No explanation will take the look of total repulsion off that woman's face. I resign myself to the fact that one more person in this world will go to bed tonight believing they have witnessed the worst parenting in the world.
You know what- after 7 years- the one thing that bothers me the most about this story is that I can not remember what it was that I was so desperate to buy that night in Wal-Mart! Not the looks of disgust from the toy aisle, or the expression of revulsion in the check out. It drives me nuts that I didn't just walk out of that store and wait until later.
Moral of the story- This too shall pass. You do the best you can. Sometimes there aren't enough words to explain it all. I held my head high, refrained from beating him in the parking lot- and we all moved forward. (Just 'book' em. They haven't got a clue)
P.S. His father didn't kill him, and he's never said it since. Another gimmie from God I guess?