The boys are playing with the playdough. We've finally made another batch, and they thoroughly enjoy its bright yellow creamy softness. They are busily playing away at the dining room table as I sit on the couch writing to you, and the murmur of their chatter flows around my concentration. It's a nice sound, punctuated by frequent giggles.
Gradually, though, I realise that I'm hearing the same rhythmic pulse over and over again. They have been playing a lot with rhythm these days. Stories that have a pulse, chants, poetry - they revel in them. Recently we've been reading Hippos Go Berserk, much to everyone's glee. So, the boys are chanting as they play. How delightful. My attention caught, my ears belatedly comprehend:
"Put your playdough up your aaaaass!" Followed by lovely melodious little-boy giggles.
Hmmm...Well, it's rhythmic! And it's risque. You can see the appeal. However, it is my job to civilise them, and this is unquestionably vulgar. They've already had a nice, satisfactory wallow in toddler naughtiness, but the forces of propriety and order, namely, me, are about to assert themselves once more.
The problem is, you give this stuff attention, you reward it. I'm not shocked, but I don't want to encourage it. The solution? Be oblique. Indirect often works best in this situation.
"What was that, guys? I didn't quite hear you?" Oh, so casual. I keep my gaze on my laptop as I speak, look up only as I finish the question. No piercing glances from me. Because I haven't heard anything untoward, oh, no.
"Oh," says George, generally the quickest on his mental feet in such chancey situations, "I was just talkin' to Darcy and Arthur." The tone of voice is casual, but the grin is wicked. In another twenty years, this boy will be just the kind of man who caused me a lot of trouble in my youth.
"All right, then," say I, and their conversation moves seamlessly into less bawdy realms.
My mission accomplished, I return to posting photographs for your entertainment. The forces of propriety have spoken, the vulgarity reigned in. This is only standard three-year-old mischief, and after all, even such well-brought-up, obedient, and generally civilized little men can enjoy a dip into the earthy vernacular from time to time.