Tonawanda News


December 9, 2013

DOUBLE TROUBLE: The awesome power of words -- sort of

Tonawanda News — I’m sure this comes as no surprise — look at what I do for a living, after all — but I’m a firm believer in the power of words. Their power to illuminate. To make people feel. To make them think.

And there are relatively few things I want to impress more upon my children — beyond compassion and a good work ethic — than that power. I don’t necessarily want them to go into journalism — rather the opposite — but to understand the good and bad that words can do. To be competent writers and readers. To have decent vocabularies, and like me, to simply love words for words themselves.

And I suppose we’re taking steps there.

In a way.

I’m not a fan of preset gender roles, but this one seems to have to some truth to it. As a mother, cousin, aunt and former little girl myself, I simply haven’t seen a female equivalent to the small-boy fascination for, well, certain words. 

Oh, yes. The unique and awesome powers of the word “butt.”

It started, as so many things do, with Sam.

“Daddy, you’re a BUTT,” he giggled one day. There wasn’t malice behind it. He wasn’t being mean. He wasn’t even angry at having to make his bed, eat his dinner or anything else a little boy might not want to do. It was just ... funny. For some reason that completely, utterly escaped me. 

There was no going back. Butt, butt, butt. I’m a butt. You’re a butt. Everything is funnier with the word “butt” attached to it. 

His brother didn’t really get it, but he picked it up anyway. “Grilled cheese,” Jim informed me one day, requesting his favorite meal, “.... and a BUTT.” Giggle, giggle, giggle. “Ice cream ... and a BUTT.” “Fire trucks ... and a BUTT.” Soon the household had descended into a riot of snickering, snorting boys. And one nonplussed mom.

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