My children suck, but you shouldn’t

By Mir
March 22, 2006

My advisor in grad school would visibly cringe every time I declared “that sucks,” which is (I confess) something that I seem to say quite often. One day he turned to me in exasperation and said, “Do you KNOW what the derivation of that expression is? I mean, do you UNDERSTAND to what you are referring?”

I grinned at his obvious discomfort. He came from a background in linguistics and this was clearly killing him. “Yes, I am aware. But I believe current colloquial usage trumps the original evolution.”

“Well it makes me uncomfortable,” he said. “I’m old enough to remember when that was an extremely CRUDE thing to say. Is there another phrase you might use, instead?”

“Oh, sure,” I acquiesced. “I’m sorry. ” I thought for a moment. “I meant to say… THAT BLOWS.”

(I don’t think he was too heartbroken when I graduated.)

Anyway, this evening the kids and I were playing a dice game Chickadee had brought home from school. Each player has a shaped grid of small squares, and with each roll of the die you get to fill in that number of squares in any pattern you wish, provided that they’re all adjacent to one another. The first player to fill in all the squares wins.

I’m aware that it’s not exactly chess, but this was what they wanted to play.

The grid pages that Chickadee had allowed for only 2 players per game, so we took turns letting Monkey roll the die for us. (He couldn’t be trusted to follow the rules of filling in the grid squares, but he is a champion die-roller.) It quickly became a raucous event filled with promises of using mind forces to “program” the numbers rolled, and much cheering or jeering depending on whether he rolled favorably.

So it was a moment of great pride for me when Chickadee urged Monkey to roll a 6, and when he rolled a puny 1, instead, Chickadee declared “Awwww Monkey, YOU SUCK!”

I want to tell you that I didn’t laugh. I want to tell you that I nipped that in the bud immediately. I want to tell you that it did not dissolve into 5 straight minutes of back-and-forth “No, YOU suck,” and “NOOOOO, you suck MORE!”

Yes. I want to tell you all of those things. But I cannot tell a lie. Plus I’d put my head down on the table in an effort to squelch my giggles and may have lost consciousness, briefly, while trying to catch my breath.

Eventually the Suckfest came to an end when I sent my little suckmonsters upstairs to brush their teeth. It’s funny; some things sound fine until you hear them issued from your children’s mouths, and then maybe your view of what’s acceptable changes a little bit. I felt the same way the first time I heard Chickadee telling Monkey to “pick up his crap.”

I think the obvious moral to this story is that you don’t want to suck. Know what would be a really good way not to suck? You could do me an itty bitty favor. It’ll take you about 60 seconds, and I promise it won’t suck, and I’ll tell you that you’re pretty. Because, MY GOD, you are looking really, really good. I don’t know HOW you do it.

Anyway, the ever-brilliant folks at BlogHer have asked a few of us to beg ask our readers to take a short survey for informational purposes. It will help them out, which will in turn help ME out, and–most importantly–it won’t suck. I don’t care if you’re a regular commenter or a lurker or a first time visitor or an old friend; can you spare ONE MINUTE? Pleeeeeease? In the name of anti-suckage? Yes?? Then please go here and answer just a few questions. I’ve also added a button on the upper left that links to the survey.

Thank you in advance for humoring me. Hey, Monkey gave me his cold… so basically you can fill out the survey while I go to bed early, or I can write an entire entry about snot. I’m pretty sure this is the better deal all around.


  1. Snow

    I recently explained to my son that saying something “sucks” isn’t a particularly polite expression, and he should try to think of something else to say instead. “Be more creative with your expletives!” is one of the things I’ve always told my children. I know, I know. Anyhow, my science-loving 9 year old has merely rephrased it. “Oh, that really creates a vacuum!” he shouted when he lost a video game battle. It’s a start, right?

  2. Bob

    what is this with the rash of surveys? I haven’t filled in this many surveys since I was the only liberal deep in the heart of conservative land. now blogher knows all about me. I understand that I may be contacted for a date if her friends like my picture and my combined salary.

  3. Cyndi

    Your kids crack me up.

    It sucked a little…but not so much that I didn’t finish it…and you writing about snot always means a good laugh.

  4. DebR

    Ok, gotta say I think a couple of the survey questions veered into the borders of Suckville, but I finished it.

    I’ll go gaze into a mirror to see how pretty I am now. :-)

  5. Cele

    I never get to fill in my occupation and of course – until tonight they never had it even listed closely. So what happens? I finally get Media and an Other that you can fill in. Go Figure.

    Take it from a Liberal Quaker Grandmother – Sucks isn’t as bad as the alternatives.

    I cuss like a truck driver, but you know when I am really mad ecause I have a wide – very blue list of expletives…including
    Fudge nuts (cracks up most people)
    and my personal favorite
    Son of a bun hugger

    Don’t ask I’ve no clue

  6. Nic

    And yet I’m thinking you could come up with something great for the snot story. I took your survey, and I still look like crap. What’s up with that?

  7. joshilyn

    Blogher survey coding problem:

    You cannot UN-answer the last section.

    TO wit…in the last section (do you read this publication) you might choose 1 thinking it means you NEVE|R read the publication. But actually 1 2 and 3 are foronline, print, and both, not frequency. Once you have answered however, you cannot in netscape REMOVE that answer. You can change it to read a different number, but you cannot unclick, once you have clicked.

    If that does not make sense, call me and I will explain it better. If it does make sense, please pass this on to the survey takers…

  8. chris

    joshilyn’s comment has frightened me. the survey sounds too complex for my addled little brain

    Oh and I hate the word “suck”. I type it with abandon but cringe when I hear people saying it.

    I also hate the word “busted” Not that you asked. I just thought you’d like to know. you’re welcome

  9. laura

    I remember the good old days (1976), when “sucks” was always followed by “donkey dicks”. It was a bad, bad thing to say, and now I throw “sucks” around like shoot and darn.

  10. Chris

    Took the survey because, well, I do not suck:) But I have to wonder in the “list the year you were born” section how many people are clicking 1900. Really. I want to meet that person because they have seen the advent of so much technology and probably know where the Holy Grail is as well.

  11. Em

    I told my father-in-law once to get bent. He almost fell over. He said the same thing your advisor said “Do you know what that means?”. I did. He had it coming. And now I knew it bothered him. Bwhahahaha!

  12. wendyc68

    Ok, ok, I took the survey, but only for you. Well, ok, it was because I don’t suck. It sucks that Monkey gave you his cold though. Feel better soon, and blow the snot, don’t suck it.

  13. Genuine

    Marty in “Madagascar” says that in the movie. My son is just like dad, always quoting movie lines. He always seems to pick up the zingers that are meant for the parents.

  14. Aimee

    I took the survey. *preen* Hope you feel better! Snot is many things, but sexy, it ain’t.

  15. janie

    Ah yes, that wonderful time in every mother’s life when they call for their child. They bound down the hallway and say, “I know, I know, get my crap.” Yes, that is one for the scrapbook.

  16. Niki

    I had a friend who was vehemently opposed to her children saying “sucks”, so her (then) high school daughter began saying that things “inhaled vigorously”. We use it to this day. I took the survey – hope it makes you feel better. Tell Monkey to keep his germs to himself.

  17. ben

    Monkey gave you his cold? That sucks. Wait – sucks donkey balls. I mean, that blows. That blows chunks. Blows like an intern.

  18. Lily

    I’m a firm believer that not all sucking is bad…

    However, I took the survey for you anyway – I figure pretty isn’t all bad either.

  19. Brenda

    Yes, I took the survey. BlogHer now knows more about me than my parents. (I like it that way.)

    My kids (including husband) regularly get into the “You suck, “No, you suck,” arguments. Much laughter is involved, and I consider it welcome.

    In the immortal words of Bart Simpson (a knower of deep truth), “I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows.”

  20. David

    Oh, God! To have been a fly on the wall during that discussion with your professor. And you were so technically articulate! *tears streaming down my face* I’ll bet he turned purple! TOO, TOO funny!
    So, hey, if I don’t read ANY of those mags, am I still pretty? *winks*

  21. Kymm

    I lurk but even I can fill out a survey. Was kind of surprised to see that Stay at home Mom was an industry option but not Stay at home Dad or Parent. My husband who stays home with our kids would be sad….

  22. Bella

    LMAO!!! That was great! I still say it actually.

  23. ben

    I’m pretty sure I’m not a “her” but I surveyed anyway (and TD&H, if you use Opera the popup blocker is pretty darn smart. Just sayin’) I only read one of the magazines and I must say there were not nearly enough places for my usual smart-ass answers.

    But, it didn’t suck. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  24. pocketcathy

    I have to admit, my parents were the kind to get upset upon hearing their children say “That sucks!” Which, when you think about it, was kind of funny since anything that came out of their mouths were far better than that. My sister and I tried everything possible to get around their word rules, but once my mom figured out we’d made replacements, she’d ban them, too. So my sister and I eventually ran around shouting “BUMBLEBEES!” and such nonsense. Good times, good times.

    And I’m all for TD&H becoming a blogger. Veni Vidi Blogi! Hi TD&H!

  25. Carolyn

    That was a more eloquent explanation for why not to use the word than I received.

    “Carolyn, girls too pretty to say suck.”

  26. ben

    I once said I was “pissed” about something and my future mother-in-law almost batted me out of my chair. I was a sophomore in college at the time.

    “I will not have that language in this house.”

    Now that I’ve been married to her daughter for almost twenty years, she doesn’t have much say in my language anymore. Which is good because her precious daughter has taught me a LOT.

  27. Zuska

    TD&H, hello, nice to meet you…what was that you said about checking blogs on your crackberry? You can? Can anyone with a crackberry check blogs? Whenever I’ve tried to access internet stuff on mine I get teensy little print that I can’t read and I have no patience to figure out if there’s an easy fix. Mir’s got my email addy – if you are so inclined, and if you think you can help me, please do!

  28. ishouldbeworking

    OK, I took the survey, now let’s hear about the SNOT!!!

  29. Niihaus

    Snot sucks!

    I completed the survey. *hoping to win a trophy or a check*

  30. Vaguely Urban

    The survey made it very obvious that I spend *way* to much money online.

    That sucks.

  31. Chookooloonks

    ben — “blows like an intern”…


  32. Tori

    You are funny.
    I love what we’ve done to our English language…
    Being from the UK we are supposed to know what to say and how to spell things but I be the exception…
    Suck is one of my pet peeves I have to say – though I use it constantly…
    using good without a noun is another…but that’s just me being a petty Brit..
    “you did real good”…
    my old crone English teacher would be turning in her grave…
    You are right though – its never so bad till it comes out of the mouths of babes…
    Imagine my surprise when my then two year old said…
    not suck but…
    Fuck ….
    I laughed my ass off and then blamed my husband!!!!

    Ps you’ve probably read it but “Eats Shoots and Leaves” is a brilliant book about misuse and stuff…

  33. Mary

    I love all surveys! Bring on the surveys! Surveys don’t suck!

  34. Belinda

    1. Does it matter if we’ve already done the survey elsewhere?

    2. Had to turn and face away from my 2-year-old daughter the first–oh, who are we kidding–the several times she uttered, in surprise, “HOLY CWAP!” Thank you, “Family Guy.” Which no 2-year-old should be watching, word to the wise.

    3. One of your google ads is for “Stop Procrastination NOW!” Who do they think their target-market is? If these were the kind of people who did things “NOW!”, well…you see where I’m going.

  35. rudolf

    I have to admit, I used to really hate using the word “suck”. Not because it’s mean…remember, I did grow up in New Jersey :-) But because, in order to achieve its maximum expletive potential, it’s really a gay-bashing term. I’ve never been OK with that aspect of it.

    I’ve given up on complaining about it, though. I’ve decided that if you don’t know anything about the etymology of the word, then you can’t be using it in the original way on purpose. These kids today. They just suck.

    Oh, Zuska, on the Crackberry, go to the Wrench icon on the main menu, choose Screen/Keyboard, and at the very least, change the Font Style to Bold. You may want to increase the font size, as well.

  36. rudolf

    Sorry Zuska, spoke too soon…that setting seems to work everywhere but the Web browser. That sucks.

  37. stephanie

    this made my coffee come out of my nose!

    why?… my six year old told my eight year old yesterday to “just cut the crap, jake”

    i tried really, really hard not to laugh… but it was not so much with the working.

    i’m such a bad mommy!! :)

  38. Burt

    Have read most of the comments to see how this works. Crap, it looks like fun.

    It appears as if is hard to connect to the person you are trying to report to. This is just a try.

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