This incident happened just two months after Sylvia's F-bombs and I can't help but think that the events were related. Perhaps Lillian was just simply inspired by the impact of and attention garnered by Sylvia's potty mouth, and thus she just HAD to go out and find her own distinct... 'signature' to stamp on my memories of her childhood (and add to the building case against us with Child Protective Services).
Sally was away on a business trip, and I was scrambling to get the girls out the door to school one fine morning. As is most often the case, Lillian was dutifully doing everything she could to get ready and was following instructions to a 'T'. Sylvia, as is most often the case, was fluttering around like the little butterfly that she is, head in the daffodils, ignoring everything I said.
Here's a snippet from any random morning in our house; "Sylvia, get your shoes on. Sylvia, I asked you to get your shoes on. It's time to go to school. No, NOW. Sylvia, get your shoes on! No, YOUR OWN shoes! Yes, wearing my shoes really is silly, but Sylvia, please get your own shoes on now. Yes, Lillian you did do a good job getting your shoes on. Yes, I love the sparkles on them. Wait, where is Sylvia? Sylvia, it's NOT coloring time. GET YOUR SHOES ON!" Now repeat this for eating breakfast, getting out of PJ's, getting on each individual article of clothing, brushing hair, brushing teeth, getting her backpack, etc. and you'll start to get a picture of a typical morning here.
This particular morning, I was asking Sylvia to get her coat on, for the fifth time, when Lillian suddenly piped up with, "Sylvia, get your coat on and stop being such a PUSSY!"
I was dumbstruck, more so than when Sylvia dropped her F-bomb. I mean, I know we let the F-bomb slip now and again and thus I could fathom where Sylvia got that word. But Lillian? Calling her sister a... 'pussy'? I stood there silent for a moment, really sort of dumbstruck, just wondering, 'Where the hell did THAT come from?"
"Er, ah..." I stumbled. "Lillian, wait. WHAT did you just say?"
She registered my tone and the severe emphasis I put on the 'WHAT'. She looked me in the eye, rather sheepishly, and said, quite sincerely, "Nothing."
"No, that wasn't 'nothing.' C'mere. Let's talk."
Our previous rush out the door now halted, I switched into loving, nurturing parent mode, rather than my previous (and usual) ushering, prodding, cajoling, pleading day-to-day parent mode. I calmed my voice, relaxed a bit, and got down to Lillian's level to talk to her eye-to-eye.
I slowly explained what that word meant and that people used it as a not very nice word for a woman's vagina and that people also used it as a not very nice word for people when they aren't doing what they want them to do. And (now well-versed in how to handle another 'trucker mouth bomb') I said it was an adult word, not a good word at all for kids to use yet, generally pulling out all the little tidbits of parental guidance that I'd gleaned from our issue with Sylvia. I then also mentioned that sometimes Lillian might hear that word being used for a kitty, as in 'pussycat'.
I got the girls off to school and all was well... save a constant fear that I'd get a call from the school soon about Lillian using an inappropriate word in the art room or cafeteria or in the midst of some wonderfully nurturing touchy-feely Montessori festival about 'love lights' or a 'peace rose' or something. I could hear, echoing through my head, Lillian barking out 'Ms. Beth, I asked Malijah to hold the peace rose to share his love light, but he's being a PUSSY!' At the end of the day, I cringed a little picking Lillian up from her school, steeling myself for her teacher to stride over to my car or, worse still, ask me to park the car and meet her inside 'to talk about Lillian'.
But, there were no calls during the day, no impromptu conferences, and no shameful notes in Lillian's backpack when she got home. The day was, apparently, wonderfully normal. Happy with my parental super powers exerted to squash the evil P-word from Lillian's lexicon, I fed them dinner, got them to bed, and got ready for another day.
Rushing through another morning of getting the girls off to school the next day, all was going well. Sylvia was listening (well, a bit - let's say she was listening more than usual), we were cranking through getting ready, and things were generally going well. I had the girls fed, dressed, combed, and ready for another day of school and we scooted out the door and into the garage, when our cat Periwinkle ran into the garage with us.
Always the empathetic one, Lillian immediately feared for the cat's safety and yelled out into the dark garage, "Dad, Periwinkle just ran in here!" She then followed that with a rapid-fire burst of, "Here pussy! Here pussy! Have you seen my pussy? Where is my pussy! Here pussy! Dad, can you see my pussy over there? Here pussy! Has anyone seen my pussy? Where's my pussy?"
Always quick, I replied with a stern, sage, "Uh... errr... uh." But, I quickly regained my composure. "Lillian, STOP! Do NOT say THAT word."
I started to get down to Lillian's level and get all nurturing again. But Lillian piped up first; "But dad, you said yesterday that that word could be used for 'cat' too. And that's how I was using it. You said that. Yesterday." And I had to give the kid props. She was good...
"Yes, you're right honey, I did say that. And you are using the word... like I said people use it."
"Then it's okay right!?!?!"
"Ah...", here I was again at a loss for words. She was right. And she had used the word just as I told her it could be used. All that I could say was, "Honey, just don't use that word. Not yet. You'll have PLENTY of time to use that word down the road, in all sorts of ways. But do me a favor and just don't use that word until your bigger." I knew how specific Lillian could be and that she would immediately ask me what age she could start using this magnificent new word. "So, ah..." I had to buy time. "Don't use that word until you're... like, twelve." (Hey, I was trying to be somewhat realistic here and knew that she wouldn't buy - and I wouldn't believe it myself - if I tried to say 'eighteen'.)
She nodded okay, and then I got the girls off to school. And while I continued to steel myself for it, there hasn't yet been a note, a call, or even a peep from Ms. Beth about Lillian dropping any P-bombs in the midst of any Montessori school-wide World Peace Love Light International Hug Your Friends Day Celebration.
Well, not yet at least...