"DAD! Matthew said the S-word!" My youngest breathlessly runs in to tattle. I look up over my glasses and reply, "He did?" Now I must confess that I know a few S-words, and I have been known to use them when appropriate, such as when driving in SLC. However, there are none that I can print here...perhaps on a freeway underpass, but not here. Now, I also know that my wife has rules about certain words that can't be said in our house without some sort of punishment.
Nothing makes the kids happier than when I slip up and say one of my S-words because they know that I am in for it. "MOM! Dad said the S-word, again!" This usually results in some kind of bribe from me to the kids or a lecture on "judge not...or be yea judged". None of which works as they are quite delighted to see mom drag me about the yard by my ear.
By the look in his eyes it is obvious that he expects me to do something. I reluctantly sit up and act concerned. I mean after all his older brother did say the S-word and something must be done. Right?
I am thinking...there is Shut Up. That's an S-word in our house and usually results in a lecture by mom on how that will hurt someone's feelings and we say "Please be quiet." in our house. Then, there is the other S-word...Stupid! We can't say that S-word in our house or car, even when another driver obviously deserves being called a few S-words. I have always assumed these rules are spill-over from her teacher training. No one is ever stupid, only a late bloomer.
Then there is "Sucks". That is a particularly annoying S-word to my wife, if said in our house this will result in a horrific look from my wife, followed by a very stern grab hold of the shoulders, look me in the eye... "That is an ugly word and WE don't ever use it!" This is followed by a hug and the misty eyes and that concerned look that says, "Why did I ever become a mother? I'm just not up to it. My kid said sucks! You don't ever hear Mrs WhatsHerName's kids say words like that. I'm a failure as a mom." OK, run out and play and "Remember that I love you and Heavenly Father loves you." Followed by slumped shoulders and a long sigh.
I finally conclude that before I can appropriately punish the perpetrator, I will have to know what particular S-word was said. I give my youngest my "I'm-trying-to-be-a-good-dad" look and say, "Well son what did he say?" He looks at me as if to question my sanity. He must be thinking that this is some kind of trick that I am getting him to say the bad S-word so that he'll get punished too. He looks determined not to say it. I assure him, that when he is ratting-out his brother that he can tell an adult the word, and that it doesn't count as a sin or anything.
He look both directions and peeks down the hall, and then quietly tells me, with his most gravest look, "He said SCHOOL!" He looked relieved that the burden was off his shoulders and on to mine. Now I know that when I was growing up that SCHOOL was the S-word that I hated to hear the most, but I hadn't realized that it had made my wife's current S-word list. When did my wife actually put SCHOOL on the S-word list?
Then I remembered at the Sunday table we were talking about school starting again after Spring Break and she said half jokingly, "Oh...Don't say THAT word in this house! Spring Break can't be gone already. I can't go back to school yet. I need another couple of days."
Although, I think most parents were thinking spring break is finally over and school can't start soon enough. I can't help but think that all the other parents in town were saying, "Oh...say that word again. SCHOOL! Yes!" Then they do a little jig. "One more day with these kids home and I am voting for year round school. Whew. I'll be dang glad to get them back to school so I can have some peace around here."