“Butthole.”

(I hate that word. There are some I can handle. This is not one.)

“Hey, buddy. I’ve had enough of that word. Stop saying it. I mean it,” I said, for the eleventieth time.

And in response, he giggled at his own humor, tried to hide his smiling from his chaste mother with a ridiculously strict filter, and said, “Okay.”

“Wait, actually. You know what? Go ahead and say it.”

“What?”

“Say it. If that’s what you want to say today, if that’s what you want to talk about, go ahead and say it. Ten times.”

His smile fell right off his face. “No.”

“Yes. You like that word, so say it.”

“Mommy, please. No.”

“Ten times. Go. I’m waiting.”

Tears. “Please, Mommy. I’m embarrassed. I don’t want to say it.”

“Well, I can understand why you’re embarrassed, since that’s an inappropriate word to say in public. But just a moment ago, you said it for all of us to hear, so go ahead and say it ten more times.”

Tears.

I settled for five times. And the implicit shame therein.

And this will be our new policy on inappropriate language, potty words, rude conversation.

You want to talk about it? You bet. Go. I’ll tell you when you can stop.

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