I received a note from my son’s teacher a little over a week. It read, “You need to talk to your son about what using the middle finger means.” The note startled me. We don’t use “the middle finger” in our family and haven’t talked about it with our children because we haven’t had to to this point. I responded to the teacher’s letter to gain a better understanding of how the middle finger came up. Can you give me some context behind how my son used his middle finger? Was he using it as a gesture? Or was he copying someone else? The teacher replied, “He was pointing at something with his middle finger when one of his classmates said, “that means the “F” word”, to which your son replied, “what’s wrong with the word “finger”?” Oh, the fact that he said “finger” made me smile like I haven’t smiled in a while. I celebrated inside. Yes, I thought, he still doesn’t know what the “F” word is!
Regardless, my husband and I needed to explain what certain hand gestures mean. I wasn’t ready, nor do I anticipate being ready any time soon, to discuss four-letter-words with our kids. I know I can’t avoid this forever, but I want to delay it as long as possible. Instead we talked about the meaning of using different fingers.
Working with our son we determined the following:
- A thumb(s) up means good job or I agree
- Pointing your index finger means I’m talking about you (we cautioned that most people do not like to be pointed at) or I want you to look at what I’m pointing at (see what I see)
- Using your middle finger means I’m really angry with you or I really don’t like what you just did (we cautioned that it is always better to talk to someone if you are upset with them and to avoid using your middle finger to express how you feel at all costs. My experience, you significantly increase your chances of a physical confrontation when you use your middle finger vs. your words)
- Using your ring finger doesn’t mean anything
- Using your pinky finger (e.g. holding it out when you drink from a cup) means fancy
My son really liked the idea of using your pinky to communicate fancy. He didn’t seem to be interested in using or talking about his middle finger at all.
I cherish my children’s innocence and appreciate the opportunity my husband and I have been given to help them learn about ways people communicate in nice and not-so-nice ways. I realize their innocence won’t last forever, but will take it for as long as I can.
F is quickly becoming my new favorite letter. What’s not to like – it’s the first letter in fabulous, Friday, fancy, fun and FINGER.
I’ll give that a “thumbs-up” any day!
How have you addressed gestures and curse words with your child?