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Thongs vs. A Thong. When Words Change Meaning for Parents and Teens

(Names have been changed to protect the embarrassed)

Thankful for my teenage son’s help at the grocery store recently, I decided to try and push my luck. “I don’t suppose you’d mind running into a department store with me so that I can pick up thongs for your sister?” I thought aloud.

“Why are you getting her thongs, Mom? She’s only eight!” he said, shaking his head in bewilderment.

“It’s on her camp supply list. So, if they require thongs, I guess we should buy some for her,” I replied, wondering why he looked so concerned.

“Mom, why are they requiring her to wear thongs?” he asked in amazement.

Words Change Meaning

“I’m guessing it’s because they don’t want her to get germs in the shower,” I replied, puzzled at his interest in his sister’s footwear.

“Why? Do the girls sit down in the shower?” he asked, as his eyes bugged out

“You are asking really weird questions! Why would they want to sit down in the shower?”

“Well, how else could thongs prevent her from getting germs in the shower?” he responded.

“Okay, maybe it’s so that she won’t get warts. I know that sounds gross, but one time Dad took a shower at his health club without wearing thongs, and he got a wart,” I said. If I thought he was surprised about Carolyn wearing thongs at camp, he was completely shocked by this new piece of information.

“Dad wears thongs?” he asked, shaking his head and clearing his throat.

“Not anymore. I think he showers at home after his workouts, so he doesn’t have to mess with thongs.”

“Too much information!” he shouted. “Well, I still don’t see how thongs can help anyone from getting germs or warts, and no, I am not willing to go with you while you shop for thongs for Carolyn. I see no reason why she needs them, and I think she’s too young to wear them. I am calling Dad at work right now to tell him that Carolyn is expected to wear thongs at this camp. He will SO not let her go to this camp. He doesn’t even let her see PG movies!”

By the time we arrived home from the grocery store, I was convinced that Matt had a strange fixation with footwear, he was certain that I was “mental,” and he started to call his father at work.

A Pair Of Thongs vs. A Thong

I found Carolyn’s camp supply list and pointed: 1 pair thongs/beach shoes.

“You’re really bothering Dad at work to discuss Carolyn’s footwear?” I asked, thinking instead that we should call a social worker!

“Who said anything about shoes? I’m calling Dad to tell him that you’re planning to send an eight-year-old to a camp that requires underwear from Victoria’s Secret and that barely covers anything. And, all the while you had him convinced that Carolyn was going to a wholesome camp!”

Finally, a light bulb went off in my head.

“You’ve been thinking that I was referring to underwear this whole time?” I asked, laughing hysterically. “Of course, the only kind of underpants I’m sending Carolyn to camp with will be girls’ cotton briefs. The thongs that I’ve been talking about are water shoes – a kind of sandal!” 

“Mom, for your future information, those are called flip flops, okay?” he said, as relief spread over his face, and he told his father, “Never mind.”

Valerie Newman lives in Connecticut with her husband and two kids. When Valerie started mixing up her kid’s college applications with her mother’s nursing home applications, she knew she was part of the sandwich generation.

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