“Where’d you hear that?” I asked in an apathetic tone, not wanting him to feel bad for something he didn’t yet understand was wrong, but more importantly wanting him to not feel like whoever he was about to rat out would be in trouble for it.
Are you fucking kidding me? Avatar? You’re three. My thoughts started racing. The stresses of life began bubbling hard and fast against the new stimuli that I really didn’t want at the moment.
I quickly ducked into the next room, called his mom right then and there, and had one of those “what are you letting our kid watch over there?!” discussions. I may have blown it a little bit out of proportion. Okay, I blew it way out of proportion. His mom felt bad, not having realized how un-kid-friendly Avatar might just be. She thought he’d just pay attention to the cool blue people and not the murder and the cursing and the weird nippleless boobies attached to those cool blue people.
After a short but intense discussion, we worked it out. I snapped shut my phone as I walked back into the kitchen and looked at Noah. It was time to give him “the speech” about using grown-up words at such a young age.
Before I could give it, he said it again. “We don’t need this shit, Dad!”
I reached up and pushed against my always aching temples. “Okay. Noah, that’s a word we don’t use in this house.”
I felt so dirty saying it to my kid, but how do you not in such teaching situations?
“Shit?” he chimed back.
“Yep. Don’t say that word.”
“Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit…”
“Noah, what did I just say?!”
“Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Why can’t I say shit, Dad?”
I groaned. I was not enjoying this parenthood moment. “Noah, I’ll tell you why it’s a grown-up word, but when I ask you not to say something you don’t say it anymore, okay?”
“I won’t say shit, Dad.”
I smiled at the irony. “Thank you.”
“Can you say shit?” He looked at me with those giant eyes of his, as if he had no clue what tricks he was pulling.
“Noah, stop saying shit. Do you need an uh-oh?” I did my best to glare him down. I had only enough energy to fight away the funniness of it, or to be stern about it, but not both, and he knew it.
“But you just said shit.”
This kid is too smart for his own good.
I watched him for a long moment. “I’m sorry, you’re right. I shouldn’t have said it. Let’s both try not to say it until you’re older. Okay?”
“Because it’s a grown-up word.”
“How come it’s a grown-up word?”
I didn’t really know. “It just is. It’s a word we don’t say in this house, okay?”
The corners of his mouth tightened upwards. “What does shit mean?”
“Noah… don’t say that again.”
“Thanks, buddy. I know you don’t know that some words are not good, but when you find out that some words are naughty you shouldn’t…”
“Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!”
I sighed, only to cover up the building need to laugh that I was now fighting. “Go have an uh-oh.”
He sulked off of his barstool and headed for the kitchen wall. “Dad, I promise I won’t do it again.”
“You made an interesting choice to say it again. You still get an uh-oh.”
He leaned his head against the wall and stared at the ground. I reached across for the egg timer and set it to four minutes. Before I could set it back down, I heard him mumble. “I don’t need this shit.”
I started laughing.
He turned and looked up at me with a mischievous grin spread across his cheeks.
“I don’t need this shit, Dad!”
My laughing intensified. “Noah!” I screeched, irritated at myself for not controlling my amusement.
“I don’t need this shit! I don’t need this shit! Dad, we don’t need this SHIT!”
I wanted so badly to correct him, but at that point I developed a serious case of the laughing fits, and the more I tried to contain them the worse they got. Noah took this as permission to start yelling the word repeatedly and without end.
“SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!”