I Hope My Children Say the “F” Word
When I was about eight and she was five, I tricked my sister, Alison, into saying a very bad word.
I did not know what the word meant. I just knew it was bad. I knew it was bad because there was a boy in my third grade class with the last name of Rucker. For reasons unknown, he scribbled out the “R” on the name tag taped to his desk, replacing it with an “F”. When the teacher discovered his tampering, she shrieked and yanked young Mr. Rucker down to the principal’s office. His name was Mr. Lax and he was anything but.
My favorite TV show at the time was “Happy Days.” Richie Cunningham often called people he didn’t like Bucko. I called my sister that name during a fight. She countered with “lucko,” I shot back “mucko,” she shouted “pucko,” I flung back an impassioned “tucko.” She, unfortunately, chose the letter “F” which I had been avoiding.
It was time to inform the authorities. I found my mother frying dinner in the kitchen.
“Is #%&$ a bad word?”
My mother had a reaction which rivaled Ralphie’s mom in “A Christmas Story.” I believe she hyperventilated for about twenty minutes before weakly nodding yes and asking me where I heard such a ghastly word.
“Alison just said it.”
Ralphie got the heady mouthful of Lifebuoy soap. My sister most likely got yellow Dial soap from the hall bathroom. I hope it was mild.
I still have a little guilt. I was the one who deserved the sudsy supper. I knew it at the time and I know it now. Children can be mean, and that was one of my meaner moments.
I apologized to my sister long ago. She’s apologized to me for the time she threw the remote at me, the incident when she tangled a wad of my hair in a curling iron one Christmas Eve (we had to cut my hair free), and for the day she inexplicably made cut-offs out of my favorite pair of Guess jeans.
We have forgiven each other of all our childhood crimes.
“I forgive you” is a phrase I love to hear when my own children have their differences.
Forgive is never a dirty word.
What are your childhood sibling rivalry memories? Have your own children had any memorable conflicts? How do you handle sibling conflicts?