When my daughter Trinity was four, she became fascinated with the word “bum.” In typical preschool humor, she tried to use it in every single sentence possible.
When I finally laid down the law and told her she could NOT say the word “bum” again, she quickly morphed into a forty-two inch lawyer, trying to find any loophole in the new rule. ”What if someone has the name ‘bum?’ Can I say it then?” she demanded. I said yes. If she ever met someone with the unfortunate name of ‘Bum’ she could say it then.
Some time later, Trinity came into possession of a large, pink rubber duck which she promptly christened “Bum Duck.” And the rest, as they say, is history. Five years later, Bum Duck still has a place of honor in the toy box and enables my five year old, Eden, to get away with saying the word “bum” as often as she can manage.
Most parents of small children have similar rules about certain words their children cannot say. We don’t let them use words like ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’ or ‘butt.’ Sometimes it works and sometimes it fails spectacularly.
A few days ago, as a special treat, my sister took her five year old sons out for ice cream. At the ice cream shop my nephews took special delight in saying the name “Mrs. BUTT-ler” over and over. They were so delighted in saying a taboo word that they fell apart, laughing hard enough to drool. According to my sister, they also crack themselves up by saying the word ‘stupefy.’ In their five year old minds, because it sounds like the word ‘stupid,’ it must be terribly wicked and they are so pleased that they can say it.
Little kids. I’m convinced they’re the same wherever you go.