Primo used the word "swag" for the first time a few months ago.
"Honey," I said, with terrific condescension, "the word is schwag. And you're not using it correctly. It means free promotional stuff."
"No, Mom, it's swag," he replied, "And it means cool."
I looked at my nine year-old and had to smile. He thought he was so grown-up but sometimes, he was totally unfamiliar with the most basic of terms.
A few weeks later, Primo used the word again.
"I know you THINK that means cool, and really, it sounds like it would, but it just doesn't mean that," I said.
"Mom," he laughed, "it totally does."
And so it went on. All summer, he said, "This is so swag!" and I'd smile my little patronizing smile and shake my head.
Then, I took him shopping for a new T-shirt to wear to the first day of school. Lining the walls were a rainbow-array of T shirts with band logos and movie logos and pop culture references. There war no less than a dozen "Domo" T shirts and I had to ask, "Who is this Domo they speak of?" Primo said I wasn't missing much.
And then I saw a T-shirt which said, "Swag!" which featured aforementioned Domo with a hoodie half-zipped and aviator glasses. No matter what manner of man or beast this "Domo" was, it was clear that in his current iteration, he was meant to look cool. At first, I thought, What a coup! My nine year-old son has invented a slang word and it's taken off like gangbusters, enough that T-shirts featuring his invented vocabulary are being mass produced.
Then I realized the explanation was a lot simpler. I was just an idiot.
It's the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life as a mother. My son's surpassed me . . . at least in terms of slang.
Swag on, baby (yeah, I know that's probably not how you use it).
The Dr. Seuss illustration is damn hilarious because it's the sort of thing you might not notice while reading the book to your kids for the four millionth time but then once you see it, it is impossible NOT to see.
The anatomical picture of the horse? WHAT THE FUCK?
Also, I think every child should learn it's not OK to be coerced into touching a cow. "Do it now"? One can't get so aggressive when writing in the second person to toddlers.
I saw this book by the register at my drugstore and I thought this:
"You don't need a whole book to teach you how to create people that are just like you. It's easy. I've done it three times. In fact, it's kind of backfired. The kids are TOO much like me. In fact, I'm not sure this is even an advisable course of action. Really, people should think long and hard before they make someone like them. It's a little like the Golden Touch. Seems like it'd work out great but it has a lot of pitfalls."
And then I realized that of course, the book was trying to teach readers how to be like-able, not create mini-mes. Though I am expert in the latter, I know jack about the first.
But my takeaway was: I now have proof positive I've been making too many babies. I feel like if you mis-interpret the title the way I had, you should get an automatic appointment for birth control counseling.
On an unrelated note, I'm wondering if the author might consider a sequel marrying the two subjects: How To Make People Like You, Like You. Just spitballing.
Nicole is a parenting writer who contributes essays and articles for magazines like Parenting, Parents, American Baby and Babble. She lives in Brooklyn with three children, one husband and a morbidly obese goldfish.