Monday, April 14, 2014

It Changes the Meaning, Is All

My youngest son is voraciously devouring his Bob books. I mean, not at all literally. That would be a digestive nightmare. But he's reading them quickly and with wild abandon. Typically, he reads through one with little to no problems. But, alas, yesterday he came face to face with a book called Bow-Wow.

Bow-Wow is about two pet owners and their two dogs. One of the dogs bow-wows a lot and the other dog yip-yaps too often. The pet owners, Tim and Jan, tell their dogs to, "Shhhh! Sit!"

I feel like you already know where this is headed.

I explained the sound that comes when one reads the letters Shhhhh. He already knows his "th", "ch" and "sh" sounds so the lesson wasn't exactly a giant leap for mankind. He picked it right up. The problem was that his brain could simply not sound out the very easy, three letter word that followed. He had that shhhh stuck in his head already. So, at first, he read it, "Shhhh. Suh-ih-t," but then failed to repeat it as "Shhhh. Sit!" and instead said (you guessed it), "Sh-ih-t." But, seriously, it was totally and adorably phonetic like that.

As the book went on, he simply started recognizing the, "Shhhh! Sit!" as the word sh*t.

And. Listen. I tried to make it stop. I mean, I was laughing uncontrollably listening to him phonetically (and so innocently) continue to say sh*t. Finally, I said, "See, buddy, that word you keep saying, it's a naughty one." For some odd reason, my second born child is incredibly uptight about naughty words. In our house we don't even say pee, butt or fart because, apparently, we are Quakers. Or Puritans. Or nuns. But really because I just don't like the way they sound coming out of little people. I know, full well, that my high schoolers (heck, probably my third graders) are not going to walk around saying potty, bum and toot but it's been a good ride. Matthew always tells me when his friends say naughty words. And by that, he means that they said butt. So, when I told him that sh*t wasn't a nice word, he burst into tears.

"You're not in trouble," I explained. "You didn't know. It's just not a word we say." Then I explained to him how to read it correctly. We started over. When we got to the page where the first owner tells his dog to be quiet, Matthew boldly read.

"Sh*t, Tip."

"Sh*t, Jip."

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