A serious speech impediment causes me to demand for my children to repeat shocking words they've uttered, usually under their breath, so that I might verify that they said what I think they said. Then I rebuke them for repeating such abominations.
My friend Charlotte discovered she suffers the same affliction, when her six year old exited the bathroom without flushing the toilet. She promptly insisted her son return to pull the handle. As he left the restroom, for the second time, he said "BLEEP."
(Due to the distasteful nature of the word he actually spoke, I cannot render it, or any assimilation of it, in print. Therefore, all mention of it shall be bleeped.)
"What did you say," his mother asked, stopping him in his tracks.
"What did you say," she repeated.
Again he said, matter-of-factly, "BLEEP."
Not believing her ears, she once more asked, sternly, emphasizing each individual word, hoping, I suppose, it would give him time to change his story, "What did you say?"
"BLEEP. You know, it rhymes with bucket."
And, as every mother does, she wanted to know, this instant, where he heard such a word.
"I made it up. Bucket, cucket, ducket, F . . ."
Well, you made up a very bad word! Never say it again! Never, never, never!
As you might imagine, on the one hand, the child felt befuddled about rhyming words, and curious as to how he hit upon one that so deeply disturbed his mother. On the other hand, however, he understood the value of the information he had just obtained, and perfunctorily made a mental note of probable future dividends.
Perhaps, he mused, he would dabble in the elicit world of rhyming words again, once the ruckus over his current exploits diminished.
A couple of weeks later, the incident forgotten all together, my friend, while car-pooling her gaggle about town, happened to overhear a conversation about the 'S' word. One child explained to another that it means shut-up.
Then the six year old piped up, saying, "Yeah, but Mama says we can never say the 'F' word."
"The 'F' Word," she yelped, in soprano. "What's the 'F' word?"
"You said not to say it," he protested.
"No, tell me." She made it clear he had no choice.
"I told you not to say that word! Don't ever say that word! It's a terrible, awful word."
It's tough being six.
And it only got harsher for our small friend. "Have you said that word to anyone at school," inquired his mother, looking in the rearview mirror.
His little mouth puckered into an "O," probably to mumble the "Oh, no" word. "Tell me the truth," she warned.
Based upon previous experience, he knew this had to be a trick. But his indecision betrayed him. "You have said it to someone at school, haven't you? Who?"
"Cody," he offered, weakly.
"Why would you say the 'F' word to Cody?"
"We were talking about bad words at recess, and we knew all the same old ones. So, I told him BLEEP. And that BLEEP rhymes with bucket, but I don't really know if all the words that rhyme with bucket are bad, or just BLEEP."
I know you can now sense this child's confusion, compounded by another round of "I told you not to say that word."
But I bet, like me, you can also visualize the cogs in his brain turning, as he said to himself, quietly, "Bit, dit, fit . . ."
Fortunately, for him, that one will probably take a little longer to sort out.