Judy Kucharuk: The continued assault on words and their meanings


Is nothing sacred? Last week, I wrote about how dodgeball is being labeled as a sport that signifies oppression and now I discover that the term “best friend” is on the chopping block!

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It’s actually old news and I’m shocked I missed it when it appeared in the news cycle in 2018. No doubt there was something of greater importance (read: ridiculous) making the headlines at the time, but honestly, what could be bigger than banning children from using the term “best friend”?

Apparently, some child experts are saying that using those words is an exclusionary term, which can be hurtful when used by school children. One pre-school school in Massachusetts has actively discouraged the use of the phrase and instead begun promoting the idea of having many good friends as opposed to one best friend.

Yes. This is real life and not made up.

This isn’t just one school that has made a point of going down the best friend rabbit hole. According to my best friend Google, there are schools all over Australia, the UK, the US, and Canada who discourage use of the term because it promotes exclusion and promotes the creation of cliques. The term is deemed hurtful and has been described as bullying as it ostracizes other children.

I could probably argue it either way – there are certainly instances where a child comes home heartbroken because, “Suzie has a new best friend.” As parents, we have to explain that we should have lots of friends, or that they will make new friends. 

That uncomfortable conversation is a part of growing up in a world where not everyone is going to like you and only a handful will really love you.

Maybe write it down and commit it to memory: Not everyone is going to like you. 

Hey! Perhaps that might work as one of those cling graphics that you can place on your mirror! A new un-motivational quote!

I realize that it goes against the grain that there are no winners and no losers, and that everyone gets a purple participant ribbon — but that is real life. 

Think back to your own school days and whom you really connected with as another human being. Sure, we might have been friendly with most of our classmates, but there were only one or two that we really clicked with on a personal level. There were only one or two that we would bestow an invisible rose upon in an imaginary friendship ceremony.

My first best friend was Wanda Anderson, who I met on the very first day of school. I climbed the steps to the school bus and there she was, sitting in the front seat directly behind the driver. I slid in beside her and the rest is history as we sat together on that school bus until Grade 7 when I moved away.

She remains my first best friend in a lifetime filled with many best friends. 

Will the term “best friend” evolve into something different? Perhaps it will, but we will still gravitate to individuals who make us happy, make us feel secure, and make us feel loved.

And, in my experience, a best friend generally clicks all of those boxes.

Judy Kucharuk is a lover of sarcasm, witty people and footnotes. You can follow her on twitter @judylaine

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