Kids Say the Darndest Things…

Closing the front door behind me, I breathed a silent sigh. I had reached the end of my workday.  From the kitchen, I could hear the voices of my wife and youngest daughter wafting into the entryway in which I stood.  Quickly, I removed my shoes, hung my coat in the closet, and shuffled into the kitchen.  With my oldest daughters not home from school just yet, I wanted to soak up a few minutes with just my youngest (now 3.5 years old).

“Hey, baby!” I chirped happily.  Leaning against our kitchen counters, my wife held our sweet cherub in her arms.  I thought about how sweet and innocent my little one looked.  “How was school today?” I asked, kissing the top of her head.

With deadpan seriousness, she responded, “Mark and Chris said ‘sh–‘ today.”

Wait, what did she just say? Did I hear that correctly? Yes, I’m pretty sure I did, I thought.  The digraph and closed syllable were quite clear. My wife and I made eye contact, and I could spot the laughter welling up in her visage.  I felt it, too. Contain it, I thought. Remain calm.

Then it came again, “Yeah, Mark and Chris said ‘sh–‘.”  Again, clear as a bell.

My mind raced, working to form a response.  I needed to strike a tone of casual disdain for such language used in preschool, but not overreact.  So, “Oh my gosh!  You’re kidding?!  That’s terrible!” was definitely out.  I couldn’t say that.  I also found myself desperately fighting the urge to laugh hysterically, which could send another unintended message that swearing is funny.  Couldn’t do that either.

“Hmm…” I said.

* The names of the pre-school offenders have been changed in this story to protect the innocent.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

7 thoughts on “Kids Say the Darndest Things…”

  1. I have had so many times (as both a parent and teacher) when I was in that place between shock and hysterical laughter. It’s such a strange place to be…trying to be serious, but feeling the laughter well up inside. I love the way you leave us hanging in this post. By the way, what did you say/do? What did the kids at preschool really say?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I just kind of moved on to other topics. My big goal was to not make a big deal of it. I think I probably said something like “that’s not a nice word,” and left it at that. Thanks for commenting 🙂


  2. So funny! As a preschool teacher, I can definitely relate to this story. It sounds like there was a BIG reaction at school…and I have learned it is better to do just as you did, to be as nonplus and ordinary in response as I possibly can be. Here’s to all the new vocabulary your daughter is learning!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep, there are going to be more of those stories. “I see” is also a good response, as is “tell me more.” Wait until she brings home vocabulary that YOU have to look up– that will happen, too. You captured a great moment, Lanny. Love the blending of a literacy specialist with being a dad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Long before I had children, one of my favourite parents ever told me, “One of the hardest parts of being a parent is not laughing when you’re not supposed to.” I nodded and smiled then, too young to appreciate her words of wisdom, but now I know that I was in the presence of a true parenting sage. This post made me giggle – glad you managed to contain your own guffaw.

    Liked by 1 person

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