The P Word

As most of you know, I’m totally square. My husband calls me Suzy SquarePants. I wear my squareness like a badge of honor. My goal in life is to make my girls equally as square.

Those of you who interact with me and my children know that I am annoyingly hyper-vigilant regarding the material and language to which I expose my children. As in, I had to embarrassingly tell my BFF the other day that my kids weren’t allowed to see the Sponge Bob movie. As in, my third grader told me last week that one of the kids in her class routinely uses the S word. I gasped in horror. And then she spelled out s-t-u-p-i-d in a whisper. God love her.

There’s the background for this story.

So, you can imagine my horror when, in the car a couple weekends ago, my younger daughter announced that from now on, she is going to call our dog Pussy Cat. Hilarious to her, apparently. But then that extra syllable was just too much to manage, and she decided that she was just going with Pussy for short. PUSSY, PUSSY, PUSSY (insert emoji with the yikes face and the wide open eyes).

But here’s my dilemma, you see: I’m not about to tell this barely five year old child that the P-word is, in actuality, a bad word. A REAL bad word. Like, the worst. One that even this super cuss-y mama doesn’t let slip. EVER. And THAT means it’s baaaaaad (to be clear though: I NEVER–I mean NEVER–cuss in front of my children. That includes words like hate, fart, stupid, shut up, dumb, fat, ugly, butt and suck not to mention all the ACTUAL cuss words my girls don’t even know exist).

In the moment, we decided not to make a big deal out of it, and instead just convinced her that Stormy wouldn’t like being called a cat because she’s a dog and obviously, dogs are better than cats and that would be offensive. We died laughing about it in secret later that evening.

End of story.

Or so I thought….

Fast forward to today. Today is my day as the Pre-K class volunteer. The Pre-K class for which I am the room mom. The Pre-K class in a Catholic school. CATHOLIC SCHOOL, PEOPLE. It’s lunchtime and I’m enjoying lunch with a few little Pre-K friends and opening lots of Lunchables and GoGurts. We talk about Valentine’s Day and tomorrow’s field trip to the grocery store.

Then the conversation turns to pets.

Little Danny (that’s not his real name) says excitedly, “sometimes I like to call my dog Smooches!!”

And that’s when it happened. It sounded distorted like I was under water in the movies.

My little girl shouted–SHOUTED–the following words: “sometimes I like to call my dog PUSSY!!!”

I panic. My blood pressure is dangerously high. I am stuttering. I manage to spit out some babble about how we don’t really call our dog that and how she should stop saying that and oh, look! Danny has chocolate covered raisins!

And then. THEN. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse…

Like a bomb falling from the ceiling, her table mate Little Leo (also not his real name) yells out, “PUSSY!!!!”

Okay now I’m about to stroke out.


Oh my God I can taste the pennies. I start sweating. My vision is blurry. I can’t get my mouth to move. I manage to string together the following: “Whoa now guys. Actually that’s not really nice. That’s not a nice word. Don’t say it anymore okay? Please??!! Okay??!?”

But five year olds don’t let things go so easily (contrary to the popularity of the song). They need answers. And they need them yesterday. So then the question: “but why is that a bad word? Why? Why? Why?”

Well now I have a full blown case of aphasia. I cannot formulate a sentence. I have lost the ability to speak. So I went with the old stand by, “because it is”.

But it’s a full court press, “whyyyyy?? Whyyyy is that a bad word?”

As her friends looked on, I whisper-yelled to my own kid through tightly clenched teeth and a fake smile (y’all know what I mean…I know you do), “the same reason other words aren’t nice. It just ISN’T. Now JUST. STOP. SAYING. IT!”

Spit is flying from my mouth. I am begging her with my eyes to drop it like it’s hot.

Finally. FINALLY she relents. It’s time for recess. Praise Jesus.

But now comes damage control. I don’t know Leo’s mom. She doesn’t know me. I am imagining a mortifying scenario in which Leo’s mom calls the principal Sister Judith (again…not her real name…shout out to CKS) and says that my little cherub of a daughter told her precious little boy to call someone a pussy.

What do I do?

Well, I had no choice but to rat out my own kid.

With a shame deeper than the holler, I confessed to the teacher. I very nervously, and with a quiver in my voice, told her the whole story. She was more than gracious. Possibly even amused. Dodged that bullet. I think she knows me well enough to know my child wouldn’t know the real meaning of the P-word.

But on to my next problem.

If this gets out, I’m toast. I’ll be wearing the scarlet P for the rest of her years in this school. I’ll be THAT mom–the poor excuse for a mom whose five-year-old kid introduced pornographic language to another five-year-old kid.

I’ll be going to hypocrite jail with no bond. Hypocrite jail is a real place. It’s where a mom who constantly yaps about keeping her kids squeaky clean goes after her kid has defiled the ears of other children. There is a special housing unit for moms of kids who drop the P-bomb in Pre-K. They suffer judgement and whispers being cast upon them from across the car pool line in perpetuity.

And let me just tell you…Catholic school hypocrite jail is like the Supermax of hypocrite jails. I will rot there in my square pants. I’ll never be able to show my face at school again.

I just can’t have THAT word on my rap sheet. This is a horrifying thought for a goody-two-shoes whose children don’t even know what the word fart means. For the love of all that’s holy, he just cannot repeat this word at home. It will ruin me. RUIN ME, I SAY.

So to Mr. and Mrs. Leo, I offer my deepest, sincerest virtual apology. I pray that the teacher is right and Leo has heard worse language from his high school aged brother. God, I really hope big brother has a trash mouth.

Wait…not so much of a trash mouth that Leo comes to school and defiles MY precious child’s ears.

I will throw down if someone teaches my Pre-K daughter a nasty word (that’s why they call it hypocrite jail).

1 thought on “The P Word”

  1. You could try just being honest. Tell your daughter what it is (in whatever language you would use to refer to it), and that it’s considered not a nice word.

    Her question will be “why?” — and that’s a good question and shows your daughter’s inquisitiveness and boldness. The easy answer to this is that it’s also been used as a word to indicate weakness or cowardice. If she goes further than that, though, then if you want to continue being honest you have to mention sexism and the conflation of womanhood with weakness and cowardice.

    Eventually she will learn all of these words. For now, you have an opportunity to guide her, an opportunity that will diminish over time. Good luck.

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