Day 4: Maddie, Who Isn’t Four

Maddie strolls into the kitchen as I am working at the kitchen table. Although she is seven years old, she is sometimes still four in my mind. My Maddie. I don’t glance up from the keyboard.



“Is bitch a bad word?”

I stop typing. I look up. My eyes take in her face, her hair, the way she is leaning on the kitchen table expectantly. She isn’t four, I have to remind myself.

“Yes,” I answer.

I don’t elaborate. We stare at each other, each of us trying to figure something out, searching each other’s eyes for an answer.

“I didn’t know!” Maddie says suddenly, putting her hands up in the air defensively to proclaim her innocence.

“It’s okay, Maddie. Yes, bitch is a bad word. It’s a swear word. Do you know what that means?” Maddie shakes her head, not yet releasing her arms from their hands-up position. “A swear word is a bad word that grown-ups might say when they feel mad.” I continue. “Bitch is like a way of calling a girl a jerk, sort of. It’s a bad word.”

“I didn’t know,” Maddie says again.

“I know you didn’t. It’s okay. I’m glad you asked,” I reassure her.

She leaves the kitchen, and I stare at my computer screen. Moments later she is back.

“Mom? Can boys be bitches?”

My Maddie. She is definitely not four anymore.


Thirty-one days of stories as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers.




20 thoughts on “Day 4: Maddie, Who Isn’t Four

  1. I found the end of this to be absolutely hilarious! Wasn’t expecting that! The way you told the action bit by bit really made feel like I was right there in your kitchen watching the entire exchange.

  2. The hands up reaction gets me. I can picture it happening all the way over here in my house. That ending is cracking me up. I would love to hear THAT conversation. 😉

  3. Had to laugh at the ending. Love the way you handled this, not getting upset but explaining in words Maddie understands. Kids do grow up quickly these days.

  4. Ha, I like the ending.

    Funny you post this. My 6.6 year old son was being silly the other day and singing something and changing out the first letter of the words and he ends up saying bitch. When it came out of his mouth, I turned and saw his expression. Without me changing my face or saying anything he looked like he knew what came out of his mouth wasn’t quite right. So of course he had to try it again. That’s when I said something. Not sure if he knew it was a bad word or not before I said it but something went off in his head.

  5. Maddie definitely has a plan for use of that word. I want to say, Good for her! But, I know I shouldn’t. Not only is this slice laugh out loud worthy, but the way in which you brought it to us. Hands up in the air proclaiming innocence. Those descriptions made the story even funnier than the actual conversation!

  6. Ha! You just never know what those sweet little faces will say to you next! This is one of the things I love about being both a parent and a teacher. I’m surrounded in the unexpected every day and I love it! This story is great! Thanks for sharing it today!

  7. Ha ha! Oh those wonderful parenting moments! You definitely have to think on your feet to be prepared for those curve balls. I love your story–it made me smile and smile!

  8. “each of us trying to figure something out, searching each other’s eyes for an answer.” I feel this way every time I have to process word choice with a student!

    Don’t leave me hanging though, I’m dying to know how you answered her last question!

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