Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Word Nerd Asks: You banned what???

I just finished a new baby quilt, so I was thinking of putting pictures up, but then I came across this article and felt compelled to comment. I missed it when it came out a few weeks ago, but today I was perusing the very amusing, bitingly witty blog of The Rejectionist and saw this link:

It seems that a parent from a Southern California district was perturbed when they volunteered in their child's fifth-grade classroom and discovered that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary used there had a definition for oral sex. (Which, according to the M-W website, is "oral stimulation of the genitals.") Presumably the parent was concerned that Little Johnny might come home all confused and ask his mommy what "genitals" were, so they complained to the district. The district's response? Pulling all the dictionaries from their fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms.

Putting aside the questionable lessons in dictionary use this suggests—if my kid had come home asking what "genital" meant because he read it in the dictionary definition for oral sex, I would have told him to get his lazy ass back to the "G" section and look it up himself—you gotta wonder what kind of educators look at a dictionary definition and consider it "sexually graphic." The same people who then pull a book for one word, and then say "It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature," as a district spokeswoman did. (Hard to read the dictionary! Say it ain't so!)

The district eventually decided to reinstate the Merriam-Webster dictionary and provide an alternative one for fourth and fifth graders to use, according to the local paper, but still ... they have all kinds in California, including parents who use their spare time in their kids' class to look up dirty words in the dictionary rather than help a kid learn something.

As a side note: my version of M-W's dictionary, being older than most NFL running backs, does not have a definition for "oral sex." I did, however, look at the definition for "intercourse" and it was just filthy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


How many of you can remember what they were doing exactly sixteen years ago? I can, because that's the day my baby Boy was born. I woke up at 1 am with labor pains, went to the hospital (in a mild snow storm) at 4 am, thrilled to the fun of back labor until around 1 pm, when the doctor suggested a C-section because the Boy's head was too large and in the wrong position. By then I was all, "just get it out of me" (we didn't know the sex ahead of time), and by 3 pm I had my baby in my arms and sutures across my belly.

I remember it like it was last week, but today Boy turns sixteen. I won't blather on about how I don't feel old enough to have a 16 year old (because that's silly, I do feel older), or how time flies, or all that stuff. But the milestone made me pause. Now that Boy is sixteen, the following things are true:
  • He's old enough to get his driver's license and drive by himself. (Don't clutch your steering wheels, he still needs to pass his test first.)
  • He's old enough to get married, with parental consent. (!)
  • He's old enough to be out in public alone between 12 midnight and 6 am (according to state law, but not Mom's).
  • He's old enough that he doesn't have to wear a seatbelt in the back seat of a car. (Again, state law, not mine.)
  • He can legally ride in a camper that's being towed behind a truck.
  • He can work in a hazardous agricultural tasks, such as operating a combine or handling blasting caps. (Better not let him know about that last one.)
  • (Fingers in ears, lalalalalalala) he can legally engage in naughty business and receive family planning information.
  • He cannot, however, get a tattoo or use a tanning salon's services without parental permission. (!)
Sigh. Blather blather blather old blather time flies blather blather thank God he's not 18 yet blather blather blather.

I was going to use this photo for the wordless definition of teenager or hungry but I think it's appropriate here:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Photo of the Week--2/8/10

You see why I rarely relinquish the camera when we go on vacation, as traveling with my fashionable butt-pack and the lack of proper hair care make for unflattering photos. But this trip to Venice in the fall of 2000 was particularly enjoyable, as we got to leave Boy behind with his grandma and enjoy grownup things like gondola rides, Vivaldi concerts in period dress, and a day at the glass museum. (Okay, that last one was for me only, but TSU had to attend a seminar for work so I didn't have to inflict my love of bright shiny pretties on him.) This photo was taken from the Piazza San Marco, looking out across the Adriatic toward one of the many plague churches (built in fulfillment of promises of surviving the Black Death) in the area. Sure, it was a bit cloudy, but who can resist smiling when visiting Venice, even with messy hair?