A Bad Word

In the living room, #4 and #7 had a disagreement. Nothing abnormal there. Siblings are bound to fight every thirty minutes or so.

“No! It’s my turn,” #4 shouted.

A sibling fight is like the weather. Sometimes they are fair, while other times they are foul.

Weather is brewing.

Weather is brewing.

“You un assss-ole!” #7 snapped.

And then, every once in a while, we get an earthquake.

“That’s a bad word,” came #4’s scandalized reply. “I’m going to tell Mom on you.”

Unbeknownst to the brother and sister, Wife folded laundry in the next room, and heard the entire exchange. And in that spooky, all-knowing way of parents, she called for #7 before his sister could tattle.

The living room went silent.

#7 shuffled into our bedroom. If he had possessed a tail, it would have been tucked between his legs. He raised his eyes, already on the verge of tears, and hoarsely said, “Yeah Mom?”

“What did you say?”

Wife loomed above #7 like a snowcapped mountain, threatening to send an avalanche his way. To do anything but tell her the truth did not even occur to him, she always seemed to know when he lied. So he answered without hesitating, “Um… assss-ole.”

Wife looked down on #7 with that stern expression a woman only gains after bearing children. “Do you know what that means?”

#7 shook his head. “Not weally.”

Not weally

Not weally

Confounded, some of Wife sternness sloughed off. “You don’t?”

The little boy shook his head.

“Oh. Well, it’s a bad word. You don’t say that any more. Understand?”

Nodding vigorously, #7 left his mother. She called after him, “You go play nice now.”

“Okay,” he called over his shoulder. He certainly planned to be nice, and never ever use that bad word again. It did not matter how much he thought his sister deserved it, he would keep it in his mouth. Even without siblings tattling, Mom somehow always knew when he did something wrong.

What he and the other children do not realize is how loud they are when they misbehave. And we won’t tell them.

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