I picked Riley up from school yesterday and began the laborious process of trying to tease out some information about how his day went (“Good.” “Well, what did you guys do?” “Um … some reading. Oh, and recess! Yeah, recess was good.”). I asked him if he knew the names of any other kids yet, and he allowed as how he probably did, but couldn’t remember them right then.
“Wait!” he said. “I know a guy named Lance*.”
“Oh yeah? You knew a Lance at your old school, didn’t you?”
“Yeah. This Lance is nicer, though. He doesn’t use toilet language like the other Lance did.”
“So … I mean, I can probably guess, but what’s toilet language?”
He was unusually prim: “Toilet language is, you know, fart and poop and all that.”
“Right, right. So the old Lance was prone to toilet language, was he?”
“OH yeah. The WORST.”
“I see. May I just point out that I’ve definitely heard you use toilet language before?”
“Mom!” Riley was scandalized. “That’s at home.”
I imagine this could change at any moment, but since he started kindergarten, Riley is so doggedly obedient about school. Last year his teacher repeatedly told me how well he paid attention in class, and how quick he was to do what he was asked. In all honesty, I wondered if she had managed to get him confused with some other kid, since he’s the one who must be nagged to the point of rattling off commands like a cattle auctioneer in order to get him to complete one simple task at home (“Pick up your toys pick up your toys pick up your toys pick up your toys pick up your TOOOOOOOOOOOYYYYYYYYS”).
Eventually I understood that for him, school is a magical authoritative environment where the very idea of disobeying a teacher is akin to deliberately setting fire to his entire Ninjago collection. If a teacher tells you to write your name, you sharpen your pencil and get cracking. If a teacher says “fart” is toilet language, well, by god, you save your “WELL YOUR FACE IS A DIAPER THAT THE CAT POOPED IN AND THEN IT GOT WIPED IN BARF!” brotherly insults for home.
* Name changed to protect the toilet-y.