My young fella is at a precarious stage of language development.
Many words and phrases come out in the Queen's English.
However, many utterances aren't so clear. Take "dump truck" for instance.
The kid pronounces that as "dumb" plus a word that begins with F and rhymes with "luck."
I giggled under my breath the first couple of times he said it.
But now, as he's more expressive about his enthusiasm for cars, pickups, trollies, wheel barrels and anything else with a wheel, the giggles have turned to jitters.
And I'm worrying what happens if we see a dump truck in public.
"Dumb #$%^!" he'll shout, jumping up and down. "Dumb #$%^!"
You can see how this might be a little awkward if we're in earshot of strangers.
Say, we're at a children's Christmas party, like the one we're supposed to go to this weekend.
An unsuspecting parent may get quite a start if the two-year-old with the long locks curses like a longshoreman after their child unwraps a dump truck.
"Cover your ears," they'd tell their kid, before turning to other parents and saying, "That boy with the Axel Rose hair needs his mouth washed out with soap, and better role models. Who's raising him?"
The other parents will try to point to me and my wife, but we will have left the party by now, after offering an excuse like, "We'd better get home in case the phone rings."
Or, what if at said Christmas party my boy spies a dump truck while sitting on Saint Nick's knee?
Son: "Dumb #$%^!"
Santa: "I beg your pardon."
Son: "Dumb #$%^!"
Santa: "This kid is on the naughty list for life. So is his dad, teaching a two-year-old to swear. Oh, I see his father is Steve Bartlett. This comes as no surprise, then. He's been cursing on me since he didn't get that Luke Skywalker action figure in 1979."
Or what if the kid and I are taking part in our Saturday morning ritual at McDonalds — black coffee for me, muffin for him — and a dump truck passes by the window.
The boy would roar "Dumb #$%^!" at least three times.
McPatron 1: "Why is that boy swearing?
McPatron 2. (shrugging shoulders): "I don't know. Perhaps they got his order wrong."
Or, it's a long shot, but what if we run into a politician near the cars and trucks at Toys R We?
Boy: "Dumb #$%^!"
Elected type: "Excuse me."
Me: "He's not repeating anything I've ever said about you."
Boy: "Daddy, dumb /$%^!"
Elected type: "I'll be calling your publisher on this. I always knew you had it in for (insert party name)."
So, you can see why I'm a little concerned about my little cherub's pronunciations of dump truck.
Of course, none of this might ever happen. But I'm trying to come up with a witty comeback just in case. Would hate to look like a dump truck.
In Grade 7, a girl broke up with Steve because he didn't swear. Use nice words when emailing him at email@example.com or flipping him a Tweet at bartlett_steve.