“Aw, motherfucker!” I shouted, briefly forgetting that my not-yet-4-year-old daughter Stella was in the car.
We were very late, but police had closed the road ahead. Given the storms from last night, a tree across Oak Grove Road (quite possibly, as logic would dictate, an oak tree) would not have been surprising. But, as I pulled into the entrance of a subdivision to turn around, I saw that a yellow Mercedes had plowed into a telephone pole. Still, “motherfucker” all the same.
“What do you say when you turn around?” asked Stella.
“When I turned around?” I stalled for time.
“What do you call when you go a different way?” she clarified.
“Um, a detour?” I ventured.
“Yeah! A detour! Like on Caillou.” I can only assume she was correct about this. I can’t attest to ever having paid very close attention to PBS Kids’ Caillou.
Crisis averted. I had more or less broken my habit of cursing around Stella by the time she was old enough to repeat anything (although, I can only assume I still say “crap” around her, as she recently exclaimed, “Oh, crat!” [sic.]), so it was surprising that I had let this slip. Thankfully, I had been able to shift her focus onto the act of taking the detour. Still, “motherfucker” could really come back on me. My wife would not be pleased. Stella’s grandparents even less so.
After finding the way back to our usual route, I thought I’d test her recall of the incident.
“Stella, what did I say when we turned around back there?”
“You know,” she said, a little slyly.
“Um, did I say, ‘detour’?”
“Right! That’s it. Good. Let’s remember that one.”
Happy that we’d reached an agreement, I put in her Curious George CD to sweeten the deal.