I like to consider my kids “sheltered”. They have no access to the internet, they watch movies that are rated G, and the Disney channel is about as racy as it gets over here. I have always wanted to preserve their innocence as long as I could, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job. A couple of months ago, I became concerned that I wasn’t.
The boys started using the word “dick”, which I ignored the first hundred or so times I heard it. I figured they had stumbled upon it rapping/rhyming and would tire of saying it within the day. They did not. I don’t like to draw attention to this sort of situation because I firmly believed they had no idea what they were saying. They weren’t using it in a context that I would deem an appropriate use of the word, and for all I knew, one of them had a friend at school named Dick. I knew that discouraging them from using the word would only intensify their interest.
Two weeks or so passed and it became apparent that the word was now a staple in their vocabularies. I casually asked them not to use it, to which #1 replied, “Why? There is a store called Dick’s”!
I tried explaining that some words have two meanings and unless you are talking about someone with the shortened form of the name Richard, they should probably just not say it.
“How is it a name and a bad word?” they wanted to know.
I didn’t have an answer, but once again, begged them never to say it. My pleas only fueled their fire to know exactly what the word meant. I can only avoid answering things for so long before I feel like it’s better to just get something out in the open, so that’s what I did.
“Dick is another word for penis,” I said louder than I thought I would.
They were hysterical. It was the funniest thing they had ever heard, and neither of them had anticipated the alternate definition of the word. I felt sad that I had to tell them, but relieved that the discussion of a word I prefer not to hear had ended. The boys lost interest in using it, even when rhyming, at least around me. I was happy.
Meanwhile, #3 has been working on learning to read and has made great strides in the last two months. He has successfully mastered many of the “Bob books” and yesterday, I decided to pull something a little more challenging off the shelf.
Nestled on the back of the bookshelf was Dick and Jane: Fun Wherever We Are. I pulled it down and called #3 to the couch to sit down and read with me. I had completely forgotten about the previous week’s discussion and couldn’t wait to share this 1950′s classic with the little guy.
I opened the book, and he began fluently reading.
“Go, go, go,” he read.
I turned the page.
“Go, Dick, go. Go, go, go,” he continued, pausing on the word Dick and giving me a strange look.
I was hoping he wasn’t thinking what I thought he was thinking. I didn’t want this sweet moment with a classic reader and my precious kindergartner ruined. Luckily, we moved on to “Jane”. Crisis averted, until I turned he page, and the first thing Jane says is “Dick! Dick! Look, Dick.”
He lost it. He was laughing so hard that he couldn’t breathe, and try as I might, I could not hold it together either. It was difficult enough when #1 used to read it, completely oblivious, but #3 was right. The book is hilarious. Farewell, sweet, innocent child.