Sporting Goods and Private Parts

So, the boy heard an unfamiliar word. Following our pre-determined Protocol for New Word Acquisition, he cornered me alone for a definition.

“Mama, what does ‘dick’ mean?”

With as straight a face as I could manage and the most nonchalant air possible, I asked, “How was it used in a sentence?”  (I learned the importance of this question when he came home from Sunday School asking whether “ass” and “hell” are bad words.)

“A boy in my class called another boy that.”

“Ah. Well, it’s another word for male privates. We don’t use it, because it’s just silly to call someone a body part…I mean, would you say, ‘you big toe!’ or ‘you’re such a calf muscle!’ to insult someone?”

He laughed, shook his head and wandered off.

Later that week, we went to a shopping center.

Walking to the car, hand in hand, he suddenly stopped short in the middle of the parking lot, staring.


I thought he’d seen something awful, but didn’t find anything out of place. Scanning the sea of vehicles, I asked, “What, honey?”

He whispered, “How COULD they? Why would ANYONE name their store after a penis? Are they crazy? No one will shop there.”

Following his line of sight, I spotted “Dick’s Sporting Goods.”

Laughing, I explained that Dick is also a nickname for Richard, and the man who started the store was probably named Richard. “Kind of like ‘ass’ can be a not-so-nice word, but it can also just be the name of an animal.” He got it.

Hubby, just ahead of us with our girl, noticed we were lagging. “What’s going on back there?”

“He just wanted to know why the store is called ‘Dick’s Sporting Goods.'”

Our daughter, naively logical to the core and absolutely unaware of the not-as-nice definition, called back to us, top-volume, “Well, they probably sell things for Dicks and things for Sports.”

The little old lady getting into her Toyota across the lot is convinced we are the worst parents EVER.

Ah, new words…


About Casey

Adoption = my life. I'm determined to give my kids the chance they deserve. Adoption isn't always easy. I promise, you're not alone in this. Join me at - we're in this together.

Posted on May 18, 2015, in Adoption, parenting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. OH Casey, so glad I scrolled back to find this!! Needed the laugh! OH the innocence of children! Loved your response as to why not to use that word. It would be silly to call someone a big toe! LOL! You are so wise!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Using humorous deflections to explain away unpleasant words…why don’t all parents do that? It seems like such a simple way to teach your child something worthwhile, rather than the usual strategy of ‘Where did you hear that?! NEVER use that word!”, which only teaches them to be secretive with their cussing…

    Liked by 1 person

    • One time he told me he just “had” to say a certain word when he was very angry (this was right after they arrived, and possible diagnoses of Asperger’s or Turretts were still on the table, so I was trying to be understanding). I told him that if he HAD to say it, to only say it in his room with the door shut. Turns out he was very VERY angry…a LOT. We finally decided together that “practicing” it in his room was actually making it harder for him not to slip up in other venues (like school), so we nixed the idea. 🙂 That was around the time we created the New Word Protocol (they can ask us anything as long as there are no other ears), since our daughter asked me for the definition of “Eff-it” (using the actual word) in front of the in-home counselor…at least it was the counselor, not Grandma. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, bless the English language for throwing us parents so many curved balls! ‘Ass’ was one I had to explain to my son too and we’ve also been through various slang and anatomically correct words for body parts, trying to dispel the ‘magic’ of them by picking them apart and making them normal, whilst enforcing what’s appropriate to say and what’s not.
    The best was the ‘birds and bees’ conversation I was backed into the day my son asked why anyone said he was his dad’s son when it was women who gave birth.
    There followed a chat about male ‘input’ and he wanted to know every detail. I was proud of the way I spoke to him calmly, without telling lies or overloading him with inapropriate detail until the moment he asked one specific too far and I told him he’d have to ask his dad!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh the pleasures of being a parent. You are doing a great job. You talk with them logical and without excitement explain we don’t use that word. I think the time put into your kids now will keep open communication.
    Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, the funny things kids say. There are many things kids say that adults hear differently.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Super funny and out of the mouths of babes. I really got a chuckle from that. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You are super fantastic parents! And what an insightful young man to take what he knows and apply to new situations! Dick’s Sporting Goods! The name will never be the same for me again. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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