I’ve always been pretty adamant that my kids don’t use words they don’t know the meaning of. Usually when they start spouting some inappropriate language that’s not actually a bad word, I just say, “Hey, do you know what that means?” And when they don’t, case closed.
Times are changing.
Ah… Middle School
Sixth grade is a time of new body hair and odors as well as an explosion in information. Yesterday we covered condoms and today I overheard my eleven-year-old son call his sister a douchebag. They both laughed. I promptly asked him if he knew what the word meant.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s just a made up word.”
Right. A made up word.
Here’s the part where as a parent you have to make that choice. Okay — he doesn’t know what it means. I could let this slide like that song about the Disco Stick, or I could nip it in the bud like I did with If You Seek Amy lyrics. Decisions, decisions. Because I mainly parent with an all-honest-all-the-time philosophy, I opted for full disclosure.
Evolution of the Douche Bag
It’s fascinating how language evolves. I’m a very visual person and before I see a douchbag as some jerky looking guy as portrayed in an SNL skit, I’m seeing the red bag with the white tubes hanging in the bathroom, aka the [insert air quotes] water bottle.
Clearly I had to stop my son from using the word. I told him to look it up in the dictionary. I thought this would solve my problem without me having to explain a thing. However, it didn’t quite go like that. Here’s what we found on Merriam-Webster.com:
Main Entry: douche bag
Date: circa 1963
slang : an unattractive or offensive person
My son is all, “Yeah, Mom. That’s exactly how I was using it. Why are you making such a big deal out of this?”
“No, no,” I said. “It means something else.”
YourDictionary.com had the same definition, but at least they gave us a link to douche, which was a little better. At least it gave us a jumping off point.
1. A stream of water, often containing medicinal or cleansing agents, that is applied to a body part or cavity for hygienic or therapeutic purposes.
2. An instrument for applying a douche.
verb To cleanse or treat by means of a douche.
All I had to fill in was the specific cavity and we came to an immediate understanding. Pretty sure the little douchebag won’t be using that insult again.