A conversation about/with my son recently:
His teacher: I think you might want to talk to your son. Some other students said he said a bad word.
Me: Which word was it?
Me: I mean, I'll talk to him no matter what. I just wondered which word it was so I might know where he picked it up.
(I didn't tell her I assumed it was "damn," owing to a "dammit-dammit-dammit" montage that had slipped past my and my husband's censoring remote control trigger fingers during prime time.)
Her: Well, I think it was ... (Here there was a pregnant pause, then whispering as if he'd committed manslaughter during arts and crafts. I love kindergarten teachers. They're the only people I know cleaner-mouthed than me.) ... shit. The students all said they heard him say the S word.
Me: Really? I have no idea where he would have picked up that word. (I really didn't.)
Her: (Skeptical, unbelieving evil eye.)
Later in the car:
Me: David, did you get in trouble for saying a word you shouldn't today?
Him: Yeah. I'm sorry. (Here he made the breathy, lip-flappy about-to-cry noise.)
Me: It's OK, as long as you learned not to say it anymore.
Him: Oh, I did! (Long, mucusy, relieved sniff.)
Me: Can you tell me what the word was?
Me: It's OK, if you're telling me to let me know it doesn't count as saying it.
Him: Well ... it was the S word.
Me: The S word? Do you know what that word means?
Him: It means someone's not very smart. But I only was talking about what someone did!
Me: Wait a minute. What exactly did you say?
Him: The S word! (More quietly): Stupid.
Him: Yeah. And I'm sorry. I was only talking about what they did, and it was stupid because it was mean, and I know you told me it's different than calling somebody stupid, but at school we can't say it at all, and I forgot. But I won't say that or any of the other letter words any more.
Me: The other letter words?
Him: Yeah. The F word, the S word, the D word, the C word or the M word. (Getting into it now, clearly pleased with his free pass to say verboten words): We can't say freak, or stupid, or dumb, creep or moron.
Me: (Quietly reveling in the extreme privilege that is having a child who is still a child, and is likely to remain unaware of other forbidden F, S, D, C, and M words for quite some time): That's probably a good idea.
Him: But I heard one of the boys call a girl a poopface. I don't think we should say the P word either.
Me: I think you're right.