“Heard that word at camp, here, eh?” I asked Megan.
“Yes but…I have also heard it on the bus too.”
“The school bus?” I asked.
“Yup. I mean, Mum, there is a reason it is called the cuss bus.”
I sighed as I shook my head and considered how it was impossible to shield your children and maintain their innocence. The cuss bus? Did I even WANT to know? I bit.
“And what exactly is the cuss bus?”
“The big kids try to go through the alphabet and find a swear word for each letter.”
“Oh. That would be a challenge.” I smiled sadly.
“They did it!” Sarah added. “It took them the whole year though!”
“So you know twenty-six swear words?”
“Yup.” The two girls nodded their heads as we continue to slowly paddle.
“Wow. I don’t think I know twenty-six swear words.”
“You prolly do, Mum.” Sarah said encouragingly. “Check it out. A is for…”
“STOP! It’s ok. I don’t want to know. Thanks though. And I guess I will add that I appreciate that, before meeting the beaver today, I have never heard you use them.” That, at least, was some comfort. Right?
“Sorry Mum.” Megan looked at me with the most woebegone expression.
“Thanks Meggie. I just don’t want your little brother to learn those bad words and use them at preschool or something. Can you imagine?”
We all got quiet as we slowly paddled along the shallow edges of the lake. Patrick was gripping the side of the cockpit and rested his chin on top of his hands gazing into the water. He then reached out his hand and dragged his fingers gently across the surface of the water. The delicate sound of the water lulled me.
It took us many minutes to make it over to the inlet where the tiny creek emptied into the lake. We stopped paddling and our kayaks slowed to a soundless drift. The only noise was that of the trickling of the creek as the water gurgled over the rocks and around logs, the occasional birdsong, a gentle wind rustling the leaves, distant music from a cottage and the odd camper’s shouts. We all silently gazed down the creek and took it all in.
“So pretty!” I whispered.
“Ya,” Megan quietly responded.
We heard a rustling in the woods, snapping of twigs.
“Sasquatch, you think?” I whispered to the kids. They giggled. We looked intently to see if we could find the source. We calmly waited.
Our patience was rewarded when, not Sasquatch, but a beautiful tan colored doe poked out from the wooded edge of the creek and bent her head to drink.
“Oh!” Patrick exclaimed softly.
“Shhhhh,” Sarah warned him.
We continued to watch as the kayaks inaudibly drifted along. The graceful doe picked her way slowly and carefully across the shallow creek and disappeared into the woods.
“Wow! We are REALLY getting in touch with nature today!” Megan exclaimed.
“A beaver, fish and a deer!” Patrick added.
“And tonight we get to sleep in tents in the woods, so EVEN MORE NATURE!” Sarah grinned.
“And we get to poop in the woods! EVEN MORE NATURE!” I sang out.
“Wait what?” Megan asked looking confused.
“There is no bathroom on the island. It’s just a wooden box with a round hole on the top.” I explained. “I was told it is not even an outhouse. No walls or a door or anything. Just the box.”
I looked at the kids. They were eyeballing each other, barely suppressing grins.
“EVEN MORE NATURE!” Megan cried out and the three of them broke into giggles.
“Oh ya. It’s all fun and games until a mosquito bites your butt.” I said.
Patrick responded with a look of shock as he considered this news. He looked back and forth between his sisters to gauge their reaction.
“EVEN MORE NATURE!” Sarah yelled and the three of them dissolved into more laughter.