"Mom," says Lindsey in a serious tone, with a grave look on her face. "I'm excited to go back to school, but there's a boy in my grade who is kind of naughty and I'm not looking forward to seeing him again."
"Really?" I say cautiously, with a hundred questions swirling in my head. Does he tease her? Is he pulling her ponytail? Does he trip her in the hall? I can feel the momma bear in my chest ready to pounce. I know who this boy is: he isn't in her class but is in her grade. I see him every day at their after-school program when I pick up Lindsey. He always seems to be playing nicely with the other boys, but then those 30-second interactions can be deceiving.
"He's just not very nice," she says. "He's always saying, 'What the BLEEP!'"
"You mean he says a bad word?" I ask.
"No," Lindsey explains, "He says 'bleep.' But it still isn't very nice."
"So his actual words are 'What the BLEEP?'" I confirm.
"Yes," she says. "He's really mean."
We finally settle on the fact that it isn't what he says but the circumstances under which he says it which makes him mean in her mind. My advice to her is to avoid him, something she's apparently been pretty successful at doing up to this point anyway.
Those kids who say "bleep," though. Boy, what troublemakers.