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“What does f*#% mean, Mom?”

Wow. There it was. Just like that. 8 years old.

I stared blankly, trying to appear unfazed.

“The kids at school are saying it. What does it mean?”

“It’s a very bad word.”

“Oh, like ‘shut up’ and ‘stupid’?”

Laughing in disbelief, “No, not at all like ‘shut up’ and ‘stupid’. It’s worse. Much, much worse. There are different levels of bad words, and that one is one of the worst. It’s so bad you should never say it ever.”

“Okay, but why? What does it mean?”

Oh, I so don’t want to have this talk with her. I don’t want to be the pin that keeps bursting her bubble of innocence. But even more than that, I don’t want her being exposed to stuff at school and elsewhere without having the tools or framework of our worldview through which to filter it. So, if she’s talking about it, she’s been exposed to it. And I want to be the one she gets the truth from so she keeps coming to me with these things.

So I decided to tell it to her straight. “It’s a very crude and derogatory word for sex.”

“Ewww! Why would they be saying that?!”

“I don’t know, Button. They probably heard it somewhere and know it’s bad, but they don’t know how bad or what it means. Just don’t say it.”

“Okay, Mama. I WON’T!”