The Bad Word

A childhood experience of a cuss word that got me into trouble.
June 20, 2007
Since all of my past articles have been informative to some extent, I figured I'd do something completely different by writing a more personal piece that has little to do with popular culture. [/size]

One of the most embarrassing moments of my childhood happened when I was in third grade. It was about 2:00 on a Thursday afternoon on a warm spring day in March 1992. We had run ahead of schedule and had some free time of our own for about a half an hour until the bell rang. During this time, I was having a conversation with a group of kids at the neighboring desks.

I think we had talked a little about television because I remember talking about shows on Fox at the time like The Simpsons and Drexell's Class. Somewhere in our conversation, I said a bad word. I honestly forget what word I used, what letter it started with, how I used it in a sentence, or even what it meant. These kids gasped in horror. One of them gave me this gesture by rubbing one of his index fingers against the other, which of course means “shame on you.” They all got out of their desks and immediately ran to the teacher who was at her desk. I still sat in mine, confused and humiliated about what was going on.

One of the kids ran back to my desk and said, in a snotty tone of voice, “Adam, Mrs. Woods wants to see you after class. She says you’re in big trouble.” Kids these days can get away with saying any bad word, but when I was a boy, if the most mild of bad words like “damn” or “hell” was uttered in school, the kid who said that would have to have a serious talk with the teacher or even the principal.

The afternoon bell rang and all the kids walked out of the classroom to go home for the day. I was still seated at my desk. Mrs. Woods was still seated in hers, grading papers. She called my name, and wagged her finger signaling me to approach her desk. I took a large breath and walked slowly to Mrs. Woods' desk. My heart was pounding through my chest and my stomach was turning like a washing machine.

“Yes Mrs. Woods?” I asked. She sat there with a stern expression on her face. I was asked to sit in the chair next to her desk facing her.

“Do you know why I asked you to stay after class?” She asked. I turned my head to her left, intentionally avoiding eye contact with her.

“No,” I replied.

“Adam, Look at me! You are not talking to the chalkboard!”

I slowly turned my head back to my teacher.

“You said a bad word in class today, didn’t you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Adam! Don’t lie to me!”

“I, I don’t know. What did I say?”

She told me the bad word I used, which I still cannot remember, and explained its meaning. I tried to apologize to her for using it.

“Little boys do not use bad words! How would you like to have your mouth washed out with soap?”

“No! I didn’t mean to say it!”

For my punishment, as an extra homework assignment, I had to write a paragraph on a piece of paper on what I did in class that day and why it was inappropriate behavior. She gave me the instructions for writing this paragraph on a small yellow sheet of paper. When I left the classroom, I folded it up and stowed it in my pocket.

My mom was parked in the front parking lot of the school ready to pick me up. She asked me why I was a few minutes late. I told her that I was looking for a paper for one of my homework assignments in my desk and that it was really messy inside.

That evening, I was in my room sitting at my desk working on my other homework. My mom came in to check up on me. She discovered the yellow sheet of paper on my desk that I had taken out of my pocket. She picked it up off my desk and took her glasses off to read it to herself. I sat there as still as a rock at my desk. I tried to change the subject, but she really wanted to know what it was all about. I had to come clean with the bad word incident, which I reluctantly did. She sighed in disappointment. It was bad enough that my teacher chewed me out earlier that day.

My mom was not only angry about what I did, but the fact that I had lied to her about my homework. She said she would tell my dad about this too when he came home. After coming home and being told of the incident, my dad gave me a little lecture about bad word usage and how some bad words can hurt people, which I really did not want to sit through. I don’t know where I picked up that word, whether it was from television (probably from a show on Fox since it was considered Trash TV by many), a movie, or an adult conversation.

Both my parents made me do the extra homework assignment. Instead of writing only a paragraph, my dad made me write a whole page. As an extra punishment, I was not allowed to watch TV or play video games for a whole week.
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