I was taking a quick shower while the boys were playing the other morning. FireDad was off teaching yet another fire course, leaving me to dash quickly in and out of the shower if I wanted to be clean at all. In the five whole minutes that I was enjoying hot water, something horrible happened in my house.
No one was injured. Well, maybe my ears were injured in the fact that they felt like they were bleeding. No one broke anything. Except my heart. And, later, my pride. They didn’t even really argue with each other. And what did happen was only known by me because BigBrother told on himself. It went something like this:
BigBrother: *traipses into the bathroom* I told [LittleBrother] to shut up.
Me: *pausing the rinsing of my hair* You what?
BigBrother: *mumbling a bit more* I told [LittleBrother] to shut up.
Me: *praying and hoping that he told his brother to sit up or anything else* You what?
At this point, I peek my head from behind the shower curtain so that I may watch the lips on my oldest son’s mouth. I am certain, of course, that the running water, his mumbling and years of listening to my own loud volume have damaged my ears and I am simply mishearing what he is saying to me. Perhaps he’s not saying anything with the word “up” at the end of his sentence, which, depending on the content of the sentence is or is not an acceptable usage. Maybe he’s letting me know that he “loves his [LittleBrother] so much.” Right? Or maybe, grammar rules aside, he’s telling me that he “helped [LittleBrother] up” off the floor. That one is said in the hopes that he didn’t push his brother down to the floor in the first place. Still, helping is nice. All the same, I concentrate intently on my son’s lips and ask, one more time, “You what?”
And he responds, “I told [LittleBrother] to shut up.”
I pulled my head back behind the curtain, shut it, closed my eyes and, very calmly, told my oldest son to go to his room. I then went back to rinsing my hair, cursing preschool, the movie Finding Nemo and life in general. Oh, and myself. I have not told the children to shut up. I have asked them to be quiet, zip it, please stop talking and, oh my gosh! please be quiet! (Exclamation and italics points included.) I do not like the word, or rather, phrase, shut up. I think it is ugly. There are a million and one ways to get someone to stop talking and saying shut up, while one of them, is one of the least respectful. (Adding in colorful words between shut and up probably rank higher in the Least Respectful category of Word Awards.) All the same, he has heard me say it. We have a neighbor who doesn’t care much for her dog. (Or her children but that’s another story.) The dog is one of those yipping, nasty little dogs that barks at its own shadow. All day long. I have, on occasion, said, rather loudly, “OH SHUT UP!” And so, while Nemo’s Daddy says it to Dory on that movie that ranks as one of our favorites, the truth is that he likely picked it up from me.
All of this went through my head as I finished my shower; a shower that was no longer relaxing but at least served the purpose of cleaning me off for the day. I toweled off, dressed and went into BigBrother’s room. He was paging through his books, the pile on his bed growing to a size that lets me know it is, in fact, time to clean his room again. I sat down to have a conversation I really didn’t care to have.
“Why did you say shut up?” He didn’t make eye contact. “I don’t know,” he said quietly as he continued to leaf through his book. “Where did you hear that word?” I knew the answer but I prayed that he was going to call on a Disney movie or even The Bad Kid in Preschool. Not so. “You.”
I went on to explain that I shouldn’t use that word, even if I’m angry with the noise level or with someone else. In our house, words that we don’t/shouldn’t use are called “Ugly Words” and he then asked if it was an Ugly Word. It was. He finally looked at me, confused as to why his Mommy, of all people, would use an Ugly Word. Surely his Mommy was always perfect and only used the best of language. I fail, what can I say? I assured him that I wouldn’t use the word anymore and neither should he, especially not to his younger brother. And, oh please oh please oh please, never at school. I think he just felt overly relieved that he wasn’t in huge trouble so he gave me a big hug and ran off, with a smile, to play with his brother. How could he be in trouble? This one was my own fault. I accept responsibility.
Now if only someone would accept responsibility for and take care of that #%$^# dog! (What? That’s an ugly word, too? @#$% it.)
[I know I said I was going to write about my Big Interview scheduled for later today but I thought that might lead me to use Ugly Words. I promise a full update on the situation tomorrow. For now, I’m too nervous to form coherent sentences on the subject. Think of me at 10:15am today.]