One night, not too long ago as Bryon was on his way out of Grace's room after putting her to bed, she asked him while sticking up her middle finger, "Is this your naughty finger?"
Bryon answered, "Yes, yes it is" and promptly exited the room before she could get in any followup questions.
He came out into the kitchen chuckling and told me about it and Grace yelled from her bedroom "What does that mean? Why is it your naughty finger?"
We simultaneously told her to go to sleep.
No more questions.
Then last night she asked me again in pure journalistic style demanding full disclosure. She promised not to tell anyone or where she heard it. She just wanted to know.
Did I mention she is only six?
Now up until now if she's asked me a direct question about something I've pretty much told her the bald truth and she knows that. She's asked me several girly parts questions etc. and I've just told her the facts as clearly detailed as I think I can to a six year old.
Bryon teases her a lot telling her crazy made up stories and she'll ask me if something is true and I'll say "No" ninety nine point nine percent of the time. But last night I just flat out could not come up with any way to explain what or why flipping up your middle finger was the ultimate insult without inspiring a whole new slough of questions I also did not want to answer.
So I took the chicken way out and told her it was a grown up thing and she was too little to know and to just not do it. The parenting equivalent of BECAUSE I SAID SO THAT'S WHY. Of course that never really works, it only delays the inevitable.
So tonight I looked it up on the internet... Wikipedia of course, and you can too if you are interested (Wikipedia explanation here) As you would expect there was the typical explanation, the one that we as Westerners all know and love and utilize in traffic on a regular basis.
But there was also these on the actual supposed origin of the phrase and action:
It is identified as the digitus impudicus (impudent finger) in Ancient Roman writings and reference is made to using the finger in ancient Greek comedy to insult another person. The widespread usage of the finger in many cultures is likely due to the geographical influence of the Roman Empire and Greco-Roman civilization. Another possible origin of this gesture can be found in the first-century Mediterranean world, where extending the digitus impudicus was one of many methods used to divert the ever-present threat of the evil eye offence. Another belief for the origin is more recently durring the hundreds years' war, when france and england was at war with each other over territory. In the beginning the English won most of the battles against France, even when the British were greatly outnumbered. Much of Britians success is due to their new weapon the long bow, however it takes a skilled archer years of practice to correctly be able to use this weapon. And the key to using this weapon was by pulling back the arrow against the string with your middle finger and then releasing it so the arrow is then slinged away by the force of the pulled back string. Then the king of france put a bounty on british archers middle finger, because if an archers middle finger is chopped off then the archer is incapable of using a long bow anymore. However when the british did win battles they would mock their french enemys by flipping the finger at them showing that they still keep their middle fingers.offence
I distinctly remember the first time I ever flipped the bird. It was on or near the first day of Kindergarten and our mean old neighbor, Doc Greer, (I have no idea why he was called Doc) ran over our black Cocker Spaniel named Poochie and left him for me to find on the way to the bus. Every time that old man drove by our house from that day forward I stuck up my middle finger at him with pride and malice having no idea what it actually meant. All I knew was that kids got into big trouble for doing it and adults did it when they were really angry so it was good enough for me and the situation.
I don't even know if he ever even saw me do it. I was usually running to hide immediately after as his dust trail was drifting away.
I haven't flipped the bird in a long time now but it's always good to have the "digitus impudicus" ready to activate if the need should arise.