In third grade another seven-year-old girl from my class helped me write a list of “bad words”. We included all the words we could think of, such as, “dummy”, “fishlips” and “retard”. Halfway down the list I entered the dangerous realm of really bad words, like “bitch” and “Motherfucker” (with a capital “M”). This was really just for our own amusement, because it was funny to see these words printed so carefully on the wide lined handwriting paper, making sure that the ‘c’ in Motherfucker didn’t go past the little dotted lines, that the ‘t’ in Motherfucker was crossed just so…

Later that day I was in my room when I heard my mom in the hallway, laughing in a hushed giggle with my aunt. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. What had I done with the list of bad swears! I could hear my mom clearing her throat and she entered my room with a serious look on her face (my aunt in the background could not keep a stern face and had to leave).

“Wow, this is some spelling list. I thought they held off on “Motherfucker” ‘til at least fifth grade.” She held out the paper and raised an eyebrow, demanding some sort of answer. I did not have much to say for myself. She decided that I should really become familiar with these words, but not just the spelling. She wanted them all defined as well.

So it was that I spent my entire spring vacation on my bed, writing out each word one hundred times. I had to write the definition and part of speech for each word, and I had to use it in a sentence. However, “Motherfucker” was a word she really wanted me to get right. I had to write five hundred “Motherfucker”s in my loopy kid scrawl. I saved it for last and then spent an entire day agonizing over the definition.

This is what I came up with:

“Motherfucker: noun One who sleeps with mothers. i.e. Your boyfriend is a Motherfucker."

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