My six-year-old and I were in a parking lot when he thought he spotted his cousin’s friend. “Isn’t that Colon, or Cowlin or…Colon’s a word, right? I saw Colon.”
“It’s Colton, I think.” I laughed, he wondered, I explained that a colon is a punctuation mark, or it’s an organ in the body that controls your poo.
He stopped, looked up at me. “Wait, like a butthole?”
Answering his questions has never been easy. A practice that used to be exhausting—whywhywhywhywhywhyhywhywhywhywhy—is now dangerous.
“The thing that controls the butthole,” I laughed with him. “Kind of. That’s actually a sphincter, I think.”
He tried this one out too but was still marveling over colon. As we approached the building he said to himself, “You’re a colon. No, you’re a colon.” Then, “Daddy, can I say you’re a colon?”
I can be, of course, but I said no, you can’t call me a colon, pat, pat. The language filter—or absence thereof—is something I’ve written about before. Penis breath, butthole, puke—some words are eternally funny, like most farts. We never did baby talk with the kids, not because of some exalted pompous parenting ideology but because its annoying. The kid is an advanced reader and he has an advanced vocabulary, and I’m sure part of it is because I talk to him like I talk, so I have to explain things. If he hasn’t heard it from us or tv, he’ll hear it from some knucklehead on the playground. At least if he gets it from us, he’ll use it properly, or more accurately, to not use it improperly. There are moments when this approach will cost me, like when we were leaving.
In the parking lot we walked past my dad’s car. Duff, as he is known, is known more as the Great Prankster. Ghoulish masks, surreptitious spiders, large shadows in dark corners waiting to pounce. Nothing delights him more than to scare the shit out of the people he loves, including—nay, especially—his grandkids. Conversely, he’s nearly impossible to prank.
Though the car was centered, his wheels were turned hard in the spot. I ripped off a piece of paper and stuck a nasty note in his windshield. I was cracking up imagining him steaming over who would leave such hostility for such an inoffensive park job.
“What’d you write?” the boy asked, already laughing.
I was still in the moment. “I wrote ‘Nice Parking—“ I recovered, “Butthole.”
“You wrote ‘Nice Parking Butthole?!’”
We laughed all the way to the car, laughed the next day, the boy urging me to call Duff. I did, trying to play it cool, and the Prankster—prick that he is—never took the bait. The thought of it was joy enough, though, and despite another failed prank, the boy has a new phrase for around the house. And isn’t this one of the joys of parenting? Entertainment? Duff would agree.