Rob Wilder wrote about his 2-year-old's new favorite word -- "pussy" -- but was his son actually saying "Percy," the name of Thomas the Tank Engine's friend? Plus: Readers share their own "pussy" stories.

Published July 9, 2004 8:20PM (EDT)

[Read "'Pussy' Galore," by Rob Wilder.]

When Wilder's 2-year-old was holding his Thomas the Tank Engine in the air, he was saying, "Percy," not "Pussy." "Percy" is Thomas's best friend, looks just like him, and is the favorite of most kids (as he is not quite the bootlick that Thomas is). I've known many 2-year-olds to make the same mispronunciation (including my own). Wilder, as a dad and a teacher, surely knew what his son meant.

-- Bill Forman

That was a hilarious article. Children between the ages of 2 and 4 are parrots. They will repeat what you say exactly at the most unexpected times.

My mother used to have language that would even embarrass a sailor. We could never convince Mom to clean up her language. She had no filter and would say terrible things about strangers.

She was holding her grandson's hand in the grocery store when she passed an overweight woman. Mom said to me, "Look at that fat fucking bitch." My 3-year-old nephew heard it, and when Mom went to the checkout counter to pay for her groceries, the overweight lady was in the next line. My nephew yelled with enthusiasm, "Look, grandma! There's that fat fucking bitch!"

I never heard her use bad language ever again.

-- Cindy Kaneshiro

A 2-year-old pronounces "pussy" out loud and grownups are too shocked to do anything other than apply linguistic theory to the problem? If the parents can manage to put down their lattes and chopsticks for a second and remember that they're supposed to raise their children, not simply treat them like the subject of a pseudo-intellectual college classroom discussion, we'd all be much better off. One light smack on the bottom and London will learn what words are inappropriate for polite company in no time. A few tears from a child's eyes today are easier to swallow than a torrent of tears from the parents' eyes in the future -- and London will be better off for it.

-- Roderick Branch

I think every parent has a "pussy" incident with their kids. My oldest son's favorite word as a toddler was "truck" -- except he couldn't say "t" and used "f" instead! He only had about 10 words in his vocabulary at that point, too. Few things compare to seeing your son jump excitedly up and down in a crowded playground, point at a semi-trailer, and yell "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" at the top of his lungs.

-- Nancy Ott

By Salon Staff

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