Every now and then, my 2-1/2-year-old daughter has a strange look on her face. This usually happens when she's about to do something that she knows she's not supposed to do, like spreading Legos strategically so that unsuspecting fathers always end up stepping on them when they're barefoot.
On a particular Saturday morning, however, the look seemed augmented.
And then, it began...
I'm looking at her in disbelief. But before I could even ponder where she got this from, before I could even fathom how was it that she knew it was a bad word, she started running while repeating the word over and over, in a sheer and heavenly moment of hellish toddler joy.
I call her name. I ask her to stop. I call her name again, loudly.
Mom joins in. "Stop." "Don't say that." "That's a bad word." "Please stop." "STOP RIGHT NOW!" This only serves to encourage her. She knows the word is forbidden. Now she's giggling while she is saying it. She runs around the house, ever loudly. She's discovered the forbidden fruit of words and she won't stop.
"IF YOU KEEP SAYING THAT, YOU GET A TIME OUT!"
"GO TO YOUR ROOM!"
Visibly upset, I sit on the couch, pondering how to admonish her while making her understand.
She stops and looks at her defeated and demoralized Mom and Dad.
She hasn't said it since.