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A Mother's Back-to-School Prayer

08/12/2013 04:03 pm ET | Updated Oct 12, 2013

Sweet Baby Jesus.

It never fails. Two days before school starts back, my kids start busting out random profanities and vulgar sounding words that aren't technically bad, but sound like something Ralphie's dad might yell at a rusty old furnace.

Take for example, Aubrey's question before her last day of preschool, four years ago, "Momma," she said, five minutes before we walked out the door to say good-bye to pre-K, "I hope Spongebob doesn't have a penis."

I had a moment of panic (which is now very familiar) wondering if this would come up in conversation on her last day of school.

Last week, Sadie sat in the floor playing with Zeb's iPad while he read a magazine nearby.

"Dammit!" His 4-year-old yelled.

Zeb: "What did you say?"

Sadie looked him straight in the eye. "Dammit."

Zeb: "WHY did you say that?"

Sadie gestured to the iPad game she was playing, "I missed dat fing." (What the what, y'all!?)

Her other favorite word these days is "Hootananny." She likes to run around the house, preferably pantsless, yelling, "Hootananny, hootananny! Hoot, hoot, hoot!" I don't know what she thinks it means, but I feel sure she believes with all of her heart that it's profane, otherwise she wouldn't enjoy it so much.

Last week we were driving around in our sweet new minivan, we had just left the grocery store and since I was going somewhere in the same parking lot, I hadn't buckled my seatbelt. Judy (Jetson -- that's my van's name, obviously) said, "Please fasten driver's seat belt."

Aubrey, my 9-year-old, groaned, "UGH! Judy. CALM DOWN! She's gonna get out in a second."

I fastened my seat belt to stop the dinging.

Aubrey: "It's like you have to FEED her to get her to be quiet. Like you have to put gas in her and put the seat belt in the seat belt thing so she will shut her... her... GASHOLE."

I choked a little, "Her WHAAA?"

"Her gashole." Aubrey said with a straight face.

Aubrey: "Ding-ding-ding. Shut your gashole Judy. 'Fasten your seatbelt.' Shut your gashole... you know?"

The more times Aubrey said, "gashole," the more she seemed to enjoy it. I could see the wheels turning in her brain. She loves words like I do -- loves to turn them over in her head and test them out loud to see how they feel on her tongue. She comes up with puns all the time that make us both laugh out loud and I could tell she had stumbled across a word that intrigued her, she just wasn't sure why just yet.

"Gashole. Do we need to put some gas in Judy's gashole, Momma??" She asked, looking for a reason to use the word.

I sighed. (I do that a lot.)

Me: "Aubrey, you need to stop saying that. It sounds like a really bad word."

She looked at me, puzzled, "It does?"

Her almost white eyebrows scrunched together in thought. I could see her mentally ticking off every obscenity she knows -- then, it clicked. Her eyes widened and she gasped, "OH! I'm sorry, Momma!"

"No worries," I said.

***

After the first full day of school, my kids had a water balloon party at church to celebrate the end of summer. They wore their swimsuits and I packed a bag of dry clothes for each of them to wear when they finished. I dropped them off for the water party and went back afterwards as they ate dinner. They were then supposed to report to their classrooms for Wednesday night Bible study. All of the classes are divided by grade and since school had just started back, everyone had moved up a class.

Sadie, now at "Big School" (4K), had finally moved out of the nursery and into a real classroom with her sisters. But she was so tired from her first day of school and playing outside for two hours afterwards that she was roaming aimlessly around the fellowship hall trying to figure out where she should go.

Me: "Sadie, go in the classroom with your sisters."

Sadie: "I don't bewong in dere."

Her face was red from the heat and her eyes looked sleepy.

Me: "Yes you do! Go in there with your sisters."

Sadie: "I DID GO IN DERE AND DEY SAID I DON'T BEWONG AND I'M NOT WEARING ANY PANTIES!"

She burst into tears as I picked her up and confirmed the latter part of her statement. Apparently, she had found her dress, but her underwear had been more elusive.

I helped her calm down, step into her underpants and took her to the big classroom with her friends. She cheered up quickly, sang along with her teacher and listened attentively for over 30 minutes. As the class dismissed to the playground to wait for everyone's parents to pick them up, my 7-year-old, Emma, made her way to me in the back of the room.

She leaned forward, cupped her hands around my ear and whispered, "I'm not wearing any panties."

Sweet. Baby. Jesus.

Which leads me back to the familiar fear, paranoia and general all-encompassing sense of doom I experience this time of year as my children are unleashed upon people who are not related to them. So this morning, as I dropped my kids off at school, I said a little prayer:

Dear God,

Please let my kids behave, I don't want their teachers to have a hootananny on their hands. Please help my kids to remain fully clothed at school or to at least not tell everyone if they're going commando -- otherwise, I'm gonna look like a total gashole.

Amen

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