Question I didn’t want to answer.

So my dear Sweet 6 year old Evan comes home from school yesterday and goes. Mommy I was talking to Bill (not his real name) on the bus and Bill said that if you stick your middle finger up by itself you will get kicked off the bus. (At this point I am thinking WTF you are in KG and go to school in a very Christian community) Evan then goes Mommy what does that mean. I try to ignore it and he goes again Mommy what does it mean when you stick your middle finger up by itself. I go Evan it is a bad thing to do. You can get into a lot of trouble if you do that. It is something that only adults can do but they shouldn’t it is a very bad thing.
SO after that I get online and start looking there are several pretty funny blogs about trying to explain this to your child and their mishaps with the “bird”. Thus leading to me to think. When did giving someone the “bird” become entertaining. When did it become socially exceptable. Now I would be full of it if I said I have never done this. Because I have. But this just isn’t right. People use it as a form of humor. Now at times it has been funny. Example.


Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger, English soldiers would find it impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and, therefore, be incapable of fighting in the future.

This famous weapon was made of the native English yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as “plucking the yew.” Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French saying, “See, we can still pluck yew! PLUCK YEW!”

Over the years, some folk etymologies have grown up around this symbolic gesture. Since “pluck yew” is rather difficult to say (like “pleasant mother pheasant plucker,” and, incidentally, is who you had to go to for the feathers used on the arrows for the longbow), the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning of each word has gradually evolved to a labio-dental fricative “F.” Thus, the words often accompanying the one-finger salute are mistakenly thought to have something to do with the intimate encounter.

It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows that the symbolic gesture is also known as “giving the bird.”

How would you explain this to your child?


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