Despite two years served under the patient ears of The Tattling Turtle at school, my 5-year-old daughter M- still tattles like nobody's business*, and her 8-year-old brother D- has long ago earned his Veteran Kid status, which entitles him to get away with all kinds of secrets and sneakiness under our noses, as this frustratingly inconclusive conversation demonstrates:
M- (the "eager" version of The Tattling Voice): Last night, I was trying to sleep, and D- was keeping me up by saying a bad word. One that means "horse poop"?
Me (mild curiosity officially piqued): ...Oh? Which word was that?
M- (wishing she could help, realizing she's out of ammo): Ummmm... I don't remember. You should ask him.
Me (recklessly pressing the point while the iron is hot): You won't get in trouble for saying what it was. Was it something like "cr... cr... cr..."
M- (blank stare): Uhhhh...
Me (scrambling, hoping she doesn't start asking followups, to add to her extensive vocabulary, but now confident I've nailed it down at Level 2): Was it something with "sh... sh... shhh..."
M- (another blank stare, then resignation, which is apparently what you get when you seem to take tattles seriously): Umm, well, I don't really remember what the word is, but I know it's bad, and I know it means "horse poop".
So, it seems that D- is either cataloging new slang words that don't spring to my mind, or he may have invented a hilarious new game of 1) declaring secret, scandalous meanings to made-up words; or 2) assigning new meanings to existing, innocuous words; with the primary or secondary intention of getting his sister to cash in all her tattling chips on unenforceable violations. Both of the latter options are genius, and make me pretty perversely proud.
* If anything, this stuffed turtle just allows her to practice new techniques. She talked about him all the time in the beginning, but the very first time I made reference to him myself, she made a point of assuring me, with an expression and tone that suggested I might be an idiot, that he is "not real". Thus, he is powerless to act on any of her solid intel.