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Monday, May 15

The F-Word

"The F-Word"
Short Fiction - Humor
by Stacie Penney

"Mom, what does 'fuck' mean?"

My hands froze in the soapy water at Bryan's question. I dismissed my first thought, surely that isn't a spelling word, and forced myself to continue scrubbing the pan that I had used for cheesy hashbrowns. Bryan's favorite, in fact.

"Where did you see that word?" I thought my voice hit that right note of neutrality, but Bryan wasn't fooled.

"Is it a bad word?"

"Some people think it is."

"Do you think it is?"

Words have power, something that my eight-year-old had learned as a toddler. Was I ready for him to understand the power that "fuck" has over some people?

"Yes, I do. That's why you've never heard me say it. Have you heard Dad say it?" I kept washing the dishes and my back to him.

Bryan made a noise that might have been yes or no. Protecting his source was a habit he acquired after his class produced an edition of the school newspaper, The Eagle Gazette.

I shifted my weight from one side to the other. A chunk of cheese stuck to the bottom of the pan. I scrubbed, but without any conviction. My next words needed to be chosen carefully and I doubted that I'd get it right the first time.

"Moms and dads have a special relationship and they show that sometimes."

Bryan interrupted my plodding speech. "You mean sex."

My jaw dropped. I let the water drain from the sink and filled the stubborn pan with hot water. It could wait. Bryan couldn't.

"Where did you learn about sex?" I pulled out the chair next to his and sat down. He kept staring at his spelling words.

"I don't know. Around, I guess. It's like what happens after kissing and stuff, right?"

"But only between moms and dads. After they are married." I wasn't above lying to my kids when necessary.

"But why is it a bad word? Sex isn't a bad word. Or is it?"

Explaining good and bad wasn't any easier than explaining sex. I had a book that explained sex. Why couldn't the conversation have stuck with sex?

"Some people think that it's a bad word. Not sex, but the other one. The F-word." I practically saw the light bulb turn on above Bryan's head as he connected recent events.

"Moms and dads have special relationships. The f-word isn't a good way to think about that relationship so people say it's a bad word. That's why you never hear me or Dad use it."

Bryan snickered. Looks like his dad and I will be having a talk soon.

"Where did you hear it, Bryan?"

It was his turn to squirm. I must have told him enough that he realized that wasn't going to get in trouble, even if someone else had.

"Josh's brother said it. Josh said it to me. But I didn't know what it meant. I thought it was something that you said when you were mad, like how Dad says 'shit' when he drops one of his tools."

Definitely needed to talk to his father.

"It gets used for a lot of reasons by different people. In this house though, we don't use it."

"Better mention that to Dad."

I ruffled Bryan's hair. "How about those spelling words, pal?"

Crisis diverted.

13 reactions:

Kelly Parra said...

Great one, Stacie! Oh boy, I am not looking forward to this conversation with my kids. =D Thanks for sharing it with FM!

bluepaul said...


the fool said...

I dropped a hammer on my sandal-clad toe in the presence of my 5-year-old daughter once and weaved a colorful verbal tapestry of profanity in my injured state.

When I finally shut up, my daughter, who'd been standing there with her mouth agape, said, "Daddy, those were bad words!"

I said, "I know, sweetheart, and I never want to hear you say any of them, but right now, they're making Daddy feel just a little bit better."

stay_c said...

TF--That's the sort of thing that happens at our house too, with the 6yo. The 2yo isn't there yet.

Kelly--I'm dreading this conversation, too. I find myself a hypocrite more frequently when things like this turn up.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Terrific piece Stacie. I loved it! Those moments when one of your kids just stops you in your tracks. It has to happen sometime. You were great.

stay_c said...

Thanks, Joy!

bornfool said...

I loved it. Great dialogue that is totally realistic.

Goldberry said...

I completely LOVED this piece!!

Meleta McHarlin said...

Too funny! Been there - done that! Very nice dialogue. Well done.

Jeff said...

Nicely done. :)

stay_c said...

Thanks, everyone.

I guess listening to those voices in my head is really paying off. lol

stay_c said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edie said...

Excellent, Stacie! Very good writing. Like Meleta, been there, done that!