Tag Archives: Grade school

Pottymouth Training, Vol. 2



I’ll never be able to look at him the same.

Not after yesterday.

Just 44 inches. He loves to tell me how tall he is.

The kindergartener mesmerized by dinosaurs and modern-day reptiles.

By action figures. By animated family films. By his favorite books and television shows.

So sweet at times. So innocent. Not yet scarred by the brutality of gaining life experience.

He couldn’t have said THAT.

Did You Order the Code Red?

At school, my five-year-old son’s kindergarten class has a color-coded system to indicate what kind of behavior the students displayed during the school day.

Green days are good.

Red days are bad.

The day my son exposed his penis to other boys in the bathroom just as a teacher poked her head in to check on them was a red day.

My ex-wife texted me thoughtfully last night to ask about the health of my grandmother who had an old-lady accident with her car. I told her that my grandmother seemed to be okay, and that I appreciated her asking.

She followed with a question.

“What color day did he have in school today?” she said.

“Orange. He was afraid to tell me,” I said.

Orange is the second-worst. Just a step shy of red.

“What did he do?” she said.

“Talking. Not following directions,” I said, because that’s what he told me, and which makes total sense because that’s what he’s always in trouble for, just like I was in grade school.

We exchanged “Have a good weekend”s and ended the conversation.

Maybe a half hour later, the phone rang.

My ex-wife again.

I answered.

“So, his teacher just emailed me. And he apparently said ‘motherfucker’ in school today. Somebody told on him, and he admitted to saying it,” she said.

My son instinctively knew the conversation we were having and buried his face into the couch, and wouldn’t look at me.

This was WAY worse than the times he said “dammit” a bunch in mature and appropriate ways.

And I instinctively panicked because between my ex-wife and I, I am absolutely the one he would have heard that from. I know that I’ve let the F-word slip in front of him before. At least twice.

But I don’t think I’ve dropped a mother-effer in his presence. But, honestly? I don’t know. Not knowing, I think, is bad enough and an indication that I need to be infinitely more conscious of the way I speak.

Then, I did what any sane father would do, and handcuffed my son to a chair in an all-white room and shone a heat lamp on his face.

“Who taught you how to say that word!?!? TELL ME!!! TELL ME NOW!!!”

And I kept waiting for him to yell back: “I learned it from YOU, motherfucker!!!”

But he didn’t. Just like I don’t really have an interrogation room in my house.

But sitting on the couch, and again in bed after our nightly prayers, I asked him several times to help me understand who taught him that word or where he heard it before—which I am convinced he knows the answer to—but he wouldn’t crack.

“No one taught me, dad,” he said over and over and over again.

The mystery remains unsolved.

I’m pretty cavalier with my language. More than I should be, even in the company of like-minded adults. But that word becomes infinitely more vile when you imagine it coming out of your five-year-old’s mouth—and poisoning the ears of other young children.

“I want the truth!” I yelled in my best Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men impersonation.

You can’t handle the truth.

And I’m not sure in this instance, the truth matters. The damage is done. My beautiful child knows how to say really bad words.

Even if he didn’t learn it from me, it’s still my fault.

And as an aside, can we all agree that saying “motherfucker” should totally earn you a red day in kindergarten? Orange? Come on now.

Everything’s Better in the Morning

I’m still reeling a little from the realization that it wasn’t a bad dream.

That my little boy said that.

Goodness. I remember using some language here and there. I remember my mom flipping out a little because she heard one of my friends use the F-word when we were in eighth grade. Her heart would have stopped if she’d been in any of our junior high sports team locker rooms.

But, kindergarten!? Honestly?

Too soon, right?

*deep breath*

He still reminds me how young and sweet he is. He was cute when he woke me up this morning, requesting omelets from Chef Dad.

“Okay, baby boy,” I said. “I’ll make omelets.”

Then I paused. Baby boy.

I still have a bad habit of calling him that.

“Buddy, I’m sorry. Dad shouldn’t call you that. You’re a big boy now,” I said.

“It’s okay, daddy,” he said, patting me on the arm. “You can still call me that.”

Okay, then. Maybe just a little bit longer.

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Confessions from my Past: A Playground Story

I was standing by the monkey bars when I hatched a devious plan to impress some girls at the expense of a guy who deserved better.

I was standing by the monkey bars in 1985 when I hatched a devious plan to impress some girls at the expense of a guy who deserved better.

When I was in first grade, I embarrassed a kid who didn’t deserve it because I was trying to impress some girls.

He was a nice guy, too. His name is Steve.

I saw him outside of my dorm building one random night during a late-night fire drill my freshman year of college. I was a little drunk and high. He was in town visiting some other guys I’d graduated high school with but mostly ignored during college.

I probably should have apologized to him then because I’m unlikely to ever see him again.

As a six-year-old in 1985, I had some kind of mind control over him.

There was a group of girls sitting on some steps on the southwest corner of our Catholic school playground. They were playing with dolls. Maybe Barbie. Maybe Strawberry Shortcake. Maybe My Little Pony.

Doesn’t matter.

I just knew if I could talk this kid into ruining their fun, only to have me step in chivalrously and save the day, I would win their affection.

So that’s what I did. I convinced him to go be a little douchenozzle and interrupt their fun. Steve wasn’t in on my master plan to impress the ladies. He was merely a pawn in my playground chess game.

He ran over and knocked their toys over.

I stepped in, as planned, and pulled him out of there, admonishing him for his behavior and apologizing to the girls for the intrusion.

Apparently, Steve had never heard the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Because when I asked him to do it one more time, Steve obliged.

And once again, I was the hero.

The details are sketchy after this.

I don’t remember how Steve reacted. I only know I didn’t ask a third time.

I don’t remember whether the girls were impressed. I only know I didn’t get a first-grade girlfriend.

And I don’t remember how I felt about my decision to take advantage of someone who apparently didn’t know better.

Was I proud of my evil scheme?

Did I feel some semblance of remorse afterward?

I simply can’t remember.

My guess is Steve doesn’t remember this incident at all. I’m quite certain the girls never fawned over me for my heroic acts.

My son starts kindergarten in a few weeks. And he’s going to start building these same kind of memories.

I pray as his father that I can help him construct memories that he can be proud of. That he has the courage to be an advocate for the playground kids on the fringe. The ones getting picked last in kickball. The ones naïve enough to find themselves being taken advantage of. The ones being bullied.

In between the playground incident and that night I was stoned and drinking outside my dorm room, Steve and I had some good times. I hope whatever friendship I displayed during that period made up for that day on the playground. And for all the years I haven’t talked to him since that night in college.

Steve served our country honorably in the U.S. Navy. I think he spent a bunch of time on submarines—something I’d be entirely too chicken shit to sign up for.

Steve is brave. Strong. A patriot.

And I hope my son will one day display some of those outstanding qualities.

But if my little man does choose to participate in some playground shenanigans before then, I hope he at least gets a grade-school girlfriend out of the deal.

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