I was showing Avery some dumb-but-funny you tube video a friend sent me, which I'd seen and thought would add a moment of lighthearted fun to our day, and he started reading a link title somewhere on the web page. A title that included the "F" word. The real one, not what had passed for the real and still forbidden word in our house until just that moment. I hadn't even noticed it!
I sort of jumped and yelped, "Don't read that!" and tried to exit as fast as possible. Although, I suppose, the damage was already done. And shouting didn't help the situation.
His big eyes filled with water, threatening, just threatening to spill. He didn't know it was a bad word. I reassured him I wasn't angry at him, I wasn't angry at all. Just shocked to hear it from his mouth, surprised it was there in the first place for him to see. He still felt bad, all afternoon, from the unexpected encounter with ugliness, the bad taste in his mouth. The loss of innocence, I suppose. He couldn't quite articulate, except to wonder why people would say something that makes them feel so bad.
Remember being a kid? Being curious about all things grown up and forbidden, but also how raw and terrible those nibbles can be, when we're nowhere near ready for the taste of them? 'Cause, darn it, I do, and it's just as painful on the grown up side, watching the little injuries, watching childhood tear away, bit by bit.