The following is based on actual events. No names have been changed to protect the innocent.

The Scene: A beautiful late Sunday afternoon in the suburbs. Father and youngest son, Chase, age 8, are out at the last Cub Scout meeting of the year. I, mother, am in the kitchen packing up a picnic dinner. Oldest son Noah, age 10, sits on the family room sofa, happily playing his hand held video game. Dog sleeps by his side. Out the open window, birds are chirping and the sound of a lawnmower fills the air.

Noah: Mom?

Mom: Yeah, hon?

Noah: What does c – - t mean?

Mom: Uh… what was that?

Noah: C – - T

Mom: Spell it.

Noah: C – - T

Mom: Where did you hear that word?

Noah: It’s one of my Pokemon characters.

Mom: Lemme see.

I move to sofa, remove lumpy dog, sit next to son, and peer at 3 inch screen.

Noah: See, right there? That little character called C – - t Punch? (Smile) It’s really powerful.

Mom: Where did you get C – - t Punch?

Noah: I traded J for it. He got it from his sister who got it from a used game. What does it mean???

Mom: It’s a really bad, awful word. Probably the worst word ever.

Noah: (Worried) Worse than the “F” word?

Mom: Much worse.

Noah: You said nothing was worse than the “F” word.

Mom: That’s because you didn’t know about this word.

Noah: Can I keep C – - T Punch?

A beautiful mother and son moment.

So I explain the word in its literal sense which I think wigged him out just enough that he might not ever say it again. But truth be told, I am the poster Mom for bad language. I drop F-bombs around the house at a higher frequency than most Moms, I imagine. Not so much that the kids become numb to it. But on those special occasions, when used as a qualifying adjective or one-word exclamation, the F-word is quite effective to drive home a particular point or feeling. And miraculously you have everyone’s attention for a change. This is my own philosophy; I don’t expect too many to share it.

But sitting there having this conversation with him made me remember an instance when the boys were younger and I was more discreet with my vernacular. Noah, then about 7 years old, sidled up to me one day and proudly announced that he knew what the “F” word was! IT’S FAT!!! Right Mom??? I agreed. And told him he shouldn’t use the “F” word ever. Eventually he discovered what the real “F” word was – but I’m proud that he still doesn’t use the word “fat” to describe a person.

Which brings me back to the “C” word. Why is it the worst word ever? It’s worse than the “F” word because it’s unequivocally mean and vicious. You can’t use it as an adjective, exclamation, or qualifier. You use it only to be hurtful to another human being. Like calling someone fat.

I didn’t offer this elucidation to Noah because I felt the nuance would be lost on him. He is only 10 years old and I think we had already lost enough for one day.

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