(Scene: the family sits at breakfast, mother nursing her first coffee of the day, attempting to keep her eyes open. 10-month-old Prophet Isaiah in high chair, eating bits of fruit and cheese. 4-year-old St. Adelaide the Righteous spooning up her oatmeal.)
St. A: Mommy, this oatmeal is great.
Mom: Hmmfhhhmmm? Oh. Good. Are you full yet? Do you want some fruit or a hot dog or something?
St. A: NO way! This is more than enough! Man. I’m almost bursting. What the hell are you thinking, Mom??
(Silence falls over the house as all movement stops. Even the baby looks up from gumming his fruit.)
Mom: What??? (#&^!#*&**)
St. A, beating a hasty retreat: Um, nothing. I’m full.
Mom: Wait a sec. What were those last words you just said?
St. A: Um….”what were you thinking”?
Mom, now fully and irrevocably awake: That’s not what I heard. You used a… new word.
St. A: Yeah. I said “hell”.
Mom: Do you know what that means?
St. A: No.
Mom, resisting the urge to go into a theologically correct definition of “Hell”, cursing Disney’s “El Dorado”, which used the word, wondering if a visual aid from an art book might be appropriate to illustrate historical visions of Hades and Sheol, settling on a simple definition tailored for a 4-year-old: That word is a word that hurts peoples’ feelings sometimes. It’s better if you don’t use it. Especially with anyone outside this house, like Grandma or Grandpa, or your teacher, or any of your classmates.
St. A: OK. I’m gonna go get dressed now.
Mom: Good idea.
(Flashback twenty-something years. Scene: a kitchen in an apartment. A family is cleaning in preparation to move, and eldest daughter Evenshine has been given the task of cleaning behind the stove. She pulls back as she sees a centipede under the stove, then gets a paper towel in preparation to dispose of the insect.)
Evenshine, squashing bug: Take that, you son-of-a-bitch!
(Silence. All movement stops as other five family members turn from their work to stare at E, who realizes something world-shaking has occurred.)
E’s Mom: Um…what was that?
E: I killed a centipede.
E’s Mom, cursing Indiana Jones and Star Wars, hoping the smaller kids didn’t overhear or understand, wondering if she slipped up at some point and said it in front of E, settling on a less-is-more approach: Let’s not use that phrase any more.
Payback’s a *$!%&, right?