One of the "bad" kids, Imogene Herdman, says "My God!" in the book a lot. And I mean a lot. It's pretty funny, but it feels awkward reading a book that says "My God" in it so many times to my 5 and 6 year-old kids. Still, it's not like they haven't heard that (and worse) from me and Chuck. So, last night I read this part of the story to Luke and Evie after dinner:
"... and when Mother read about there being no room at the inn, Imogene's jaw dropped and she sat up in her seat. 'My God!' she said. 'Not even for Jesus?'"
The words out of these kids' mouths are so funny. If you want to see some of the highlights, click HERE and then go get the book. It's so cute!
So, anyway, I read the bit with Imogene swearing and I thought it would be prudent to explain to Luke that she was swearing and he shouldn't say such things. He leaned close to me and said, "I know what bad word she said." He looked at me and nodded. I tipped my head to the side in question so he answered, "It was the M-word."
I furrowed my brow and wrinkled my nose, "The M-word? What is that?"
He leaned in closer with deep seriousness and whispered as quietly as he could, "mygod."
I leaned back and looked at him as he again nodded his head solemnly and I said, "Ohhh. I see. Yes, that is a bad word." I continued, "Yes, we shouldn't say that word because it is taking the Lord's name in vain."
Now, as I'm saying this to Luke, I began debating two things in my head:
- Should I explain that "mygod" is not a singular word or name, but the combination of the two words, "My" and "God", so that Luke understands exactly what the M-word is? AND
- How do I explain what "taking the Lord's name in vain" means?
I set the book down, pulled Luke close and said, "Luke, I want you to understand why the M-word is a bad word. It isn't actually one word. It is the combination of saying the word 'my' and the word 'God'. " In my head I had to start figuring out how to explain that it is okay to say "my God" in church, but not anywhere else. I continued, "When someone says 'My God' when they are upset about something it is considered to be taking the Lord's name in vain--in a bad way. We really don't want to do that so we need to not say 'My God'." I started to realize that I was saying the M-word way more than I ever do.
Luke seemed receptive to the entire explanation and at least very aware that saying the M-word was not good, even if he didn't really know what the M-word was. (Quite frankly, when I was little, I didn't know why "fuck" or "twat" were bad words, among other things. So, I guess I can't fault him for this.)
So at the end of my explanation (or at least, when Luke was finished with my explanation), Luke said, "Okay Mom. I won't say . . ." and he leaned in and whispered clearly in my ear, "mygod."
With slight resignation and the realization that my explanation rang hollow, I said, "Good Luke. That's a good idea."
So the M-word will not be said in our house and will, I think, from now on be referred to as the "M-word."