Thursday, April 4, 2013

Facebook and Towheads

On February 6th, Up The Down Staircase officially joined facebook.  Here is the link for anyone who is 'liking' our page there :)!/UpTheDownStaircase

I post a few pictures (or videos) per week on the happenings of Josiah.

It's short.  It's sweet.  It's right to the point.

One of my first questions on FB was this:
"She called Josiah a "tow head". Insulting? Endearing? or simply Ignorant?"

Let me start from the beginning.

Josiah started receiving speech therapy from EI.  On February 26th, the new worker (speech therapist) came out to the house for her very first visit.  

In the course of the visit, she said (to Josiah) "You're the cutest little toe head I've ever seen." 


I had no idea what that meant.  I had never heard that expression before...

I quickly swallowed my tongue in an effort to suppress my mouth.  I immediately reached for my phone and began 'googling' the term.  Here's what I found:
"In colonial times, families grew their own flax to make into fabric for clothing. Transforming the flax into thread was a complicated, involved process with many time-consuming steps. After the flax was harvested, it was soaked in water for several days to soften it so the inner fibers could be removed from the stalk. To separate the long, thin fibers from the shorter, coarser ones, the flax was pulled through a bed of nails or combed in a process called "towing." The shorter fibers that were extricated were of a lesser quality and were called "tow." This led to the term "towheads" to describe people, particularly children, whose hair resembled these strands.

Our favorite online dictionary,, provided further support and evidence for this explanation. The definition for towhead reads:
Main Entry: tow�head
Pronunciation: 'tO-"hed
Function: noun
Date: 1829
a head of hair resembling tow especially in being flaxen or tousled; also: a person having such a head of hair
The dictionary dates "tow" to the 14th century and states that its origin is "Middle English, from Old English tow-spinning."
As I mentioned, I also took to facebook.  I asked what people thought.  Apparently, I was behind the times on this one.  Friends had heard it, knew what it meant, and found it endearing (for the most part).

In this day of political correctness (which I usually don't adhere to), it's sad that I was so quick to question.  But, "tow head?"  It just doesn't sound endearing to me :)

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