My job as a K-8 school principal could never be called boring. From dislocated fingers and custody battles to disaster preparedness sessions and the excitement of hot fireman on campus during fire drills, no two days were ever the same. Each year students would dream up new, inventive ways to circumvent the uniform code (a black bra under a white shirt), push the envelope and generally make friends with some sort of mischief. However, my personal favorite was the student who visited my office for cussing. Always somewhat amused and anxious to hear where little Johnny heard the F-word, I would hide my sly smile behind a stern look of concern as I nodded in perplexed disapproval of the student before me. From the 4th grader who called his dear classmate a “sh%&head” for cutting in line…. “but my dad calls people that who cut him off in traffic,” to the middle school student who affectionately referred to his buddy as a “d*&%^$bag”, cussing infractions were my absolute favorite.
I would always start by asking the child which parent he wanted me to call first. If the child said mom, I promptly called dad, and vice versa. Okay, I’ll admit that might have been a bit sneaky on my part. Nevertheless, it worked. No child wants to repeat said cuss words, and yes, I made the student do just that, to the parent who is least likely to sympathize with his predicament. I often found that one act alone was often enough to keep said offender out of my office for the remainder of the year. After little Johnny or little Jennifer left my office, I would sit in smug satisfaction, often saying to myself, “What parent would allow such talk?” If I only knew then what I would experience after becoming a parent myself.
I can say, without a doubt, that Karma is a B#$%^ ! Shortly after my darling daughter, McKenna Kate, turned four, we visited my parent’s house. As she sat in the bathroom, legs dangling in front of the bowl, I heard her exclaim, “Man, I have a F#$%^&* headache!” My response, “What did you say dear?” (the pitch of my voice rising & cracking w/each word). “I said I have a F#$%^&* headache! Didn’t you hear me the first time?” Yes, I had. I just couldn’t believe that my doe eyed, angel faced little pixie could have uttered those words. And that was when reality and Karma smacked me clear across the face. And ouch, did it hurt.
I could have reacted a million different ways, all of which would have been bad. Soap in the mouth, yelling, screaming, humiliation, and the list goes on and on. Instead, I thought about where she might have heard the F-word (my husband, right?) and if she even knew its definition. Although she had used it in the totally appropriate context (I can be proud of that part, right?), I knew that she really had no idea what the word meant. So, I went with my gut. I calmly and gently answered, “Sweetheart, I’m sorry your head hurts, bu let’s use another word to describe the headache.” I winced at the sentence and held my breath. She answered back, “Okay….I have friggin’ headache.” It was at that moment, I knew I was toast. The only remaining question, which of my parents would I call to report my poor parenting skills?
Karma really is a B#@%^ !