I am constantly reminded of the innocence of young children. If only it would last. Big kids are not so innocent any more. When they do bad things, they are sometimes really, really bad. Little kids, however, have a different idea of what is bad.
I sat in church today on a row that was packed with little dudes. There were 8 boys on our pew. We were sitting on a row with our close friends. We have 3 boys. Our friends have 4 boys. And there was an additional little dude from our church in the mix.
The boys were quietly playing with little guys, drawing on paper, and the youngest was rolling a car on a hymnal. I thought they might not be listening to the preacher, until he said it. He said the word "stupid" from the pulpit. I am ashamed to say that I have no idea the context he was using the word. I was thumbing through my Bible looking for something when he said it. The word seemed to reverberate throughout the church. Obviously, "stupid" is not a real curse word. But, you cannot convince a group of little kids that. When the word came out of his mouth, the boys simultaneously let out an audible *gasp*. Their eyes got as big as saucers and they all looked stunned at each other. They could not believe they had just heard something so offensive.
Teaching Kindergarteners, I witness this same innocence almost every day. Five year olds really like to tattle on each other. It means nothing to rat our your best friend if you are five. I have listened to child after child report that someone has just said a bad word. I learned quickly that "bad words" must be clarified. Children will invariable come whisper in my ear, "That boy just said the 'S word'!" After clarification, I learn that the 'S word' is 'stupid' or sometimes it is 'shut-up'. The 'B word' is always 'butt'. Once the 'K word', which had me baffled for a moment, turned out to be 'crap', And the 'F word' is 'fart' every single time.
I love that young children are still sweet and innocent. It is part of the reason I teach Kindergarten instead of middle school. I could not deal with real curse words. I'm sure that one day I will hear one come out of my children's mouths, and when I do, I am sure I will look just like those little boys did today. My jaw will drop, my eyes will bulge, and I will gasp. For now, I will stick to calling 'stupid' a bad word.