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Testing boundaries, vocabulary and otherwise

Friday, October 19, 2012

Declan has been testing the boundaries placed on "bad words" lately. Like a caged lion he pokes and prods at the barriers placed on his vocabulary, curiously testing for weak spots he can exploit.

"Can I say the heh heh word?" he asked last night, carefully sounding out an H repeatedly.

"The H word?" I responded, playing naive.

"H E L," he spelled out, adding that a classmate had used it, all the while attempting to hide a grin.

"No you cannot," I responded flatly, thinking to myself, "classmate, I bet."

Declan's mischievous side is well known to me, of course, and it is usually accompanied by a grin that he attempts to hide but never quite can.

I could tell he knew the answer to the H word question before I responded and previous experience tells me he also has a much keener sense of speech than he lets on.

While expressing his frustration with a meal I had made last week, Declan informed me that he hated chili.

It is certainly not the definition of the word hate that moved it to the "bad word" list in our home, but rather something about the way Declan says it. It is like nails on a chalkboard to me, maybe because it is usually in reference to a meal I cooked.

"We are not using that word anymore, remember?" I replied after about the third time he so defiantly informed me that he hated chili.

It wasn't just a simple bowl of chili either. I had baked a small dish of cornbread in the oven with hot dogs cooked inside and poured chili across the top afterwards. I was attempting to make the little monster a sort-of smothered, homemade corn dog. He was not impressed.

"Fine," he crossed his arms and glared at me.

"I bump this," he said, pausing and waiting to gauge my response.

I was determined to enjoy the cornbread and chili and attempting to ignore his tirade.

After a few moments his frustration boiled over and he yelled across the dinner table at me, "I bump chili!"

I looked at him blankly, continuing to eat and trying not to laugh.

Declan leaned closer to me and changed his tone to a near whisper, "When I say bump, I mean hate," he informed me.

I set down my spoon, an action that didn't go unnoticed by the young man.

"I know exactly what you meant Declan, eat your dinner before you get yourself in trouble," I responded, trying to hide a grin of my own and somehow managing a stern glare.

Like the caged lion I referenced earlier, Declan had pushed his barriers to their limit and now retreated to his meal. He scraped the chili off of his cornbread, grumbling all the while under his breath, eventually finding a way to enjoy the rest of his meal.

He may dislike chili, but going to bed hungry is a scenario no lion will risk.

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Bruce Baker
Dinner with Declan