If You Laugh, You're Doomed.

Jackson, in his car seat, while I drive him to school: "Fucking bullshit!"

Me: "Hey! Don't say that."

Jackson: "But I have to.

Me: "Ah, Jesus. No you don't. Where did you hear that?"

Jackson: (miffed silence)

Me: "Dahlia said that Sunday in the back yard, didn't she?"

Jackson: "Yes."

Me: "And do you remember what she said right after that? She apologized."

Jackson: (more miffed silence)

Me: "Sweetie, I know you hear those words at home, but you can not say them at school. You'll get in big trouble. Oh my god, your teachers will have a fit."

Jackson, pointing: "What the hell is that?"

Me: "Heck, what the heck is that. It's a jacaranda tree. They all turn purple this time of year."

Jackson: "It's fucking bullshit."

Me (desperately trying not to smile): "Kids don't say those words, honey, it makes grownups really mad. Remember when Caitlin told us that she got punished for saying a bad word at home, and then she didn't get a cookie after dinner?"

Jackson: "Fucking, fucking bullshit."

Me (becoming completely illogical): "And then Caitlin's mom started telling me how [another little girl] said bad words all the time, and that was really confusing for Caitlin when she's not supposed to say them, and then she started in on how it's the parents' fault, there's no consistent discipline. And I'm like, Oh boy, you should come to our house during basketball playoffs . . . Shit! There's a parking space!"

Jackson: "Fucking shit!"

Me (opening Jackson's door): "Okay, once we get out of this car, no more words like that. Got it?"

Jackson, standing on the back seat, aiming right at his school: "BULLSHIT!"

Tiny voice coming from behind the gate: "Jackson's here!"