Children suck

January 6, 2015

Or at least, that’s what this sign says. Spotted in my local medical surgery near the children’s play area.


I think they meant to tell parents to put any toys into the bin that their children have put into their mouths or that they have dirtied.

It might have been better to avoid ‘dirty’ and ‘suck’ (especially the unfortunately worded ‘children suck’) and instead used wording similar to this: ‘For used play area toys. Please put play area toys used by your children into this bin.’


  1. Rhonda:

    I’d really question this… I think you’re missing the point that there are two particular events they’re aiming at:
    a.) when children have sucked a toy
    b.) when the toy can be seen or otherwise known to be dirty (presumably, for example, from being dropped on the floor and dragged around etc.)

    The phrase “used by your children” doesn’t necessarily cover the latter, and might even be seen in this context to be rather euphemistic and consequently potentially misleading. (Admittedly, in a surgery in an area where silly parents refuse to get children vaccinated, there may be a need to have all use of a toy by children regarded as risky, but then all toys would need to be placed there immediately after use.)

    A reality is, that children of a certain age will almost invariably suck toys. Maybe “children suck” can be cleaned up if it has to be by adding “them” or similar wording. In any event, surely a simple use of the word “suck” in its original meaning shouldn’t be allowed to be degraded into misuse because some other more esoteric/exotic/erotic implications creep into usage. “Children suck” is a description of universal human reflexive behaviour.

    But I really don’t see what’s wrong with the word “dirty”, either. It’s simple and understandable by even early English language learners and in context, would presumably have an implication of appearance.

    Maybe just “… when they are dirty or children have sucked them” ?

    (The point being that sucked toys may not have a dirty appearance.)

    Amazing how one can find an argument or two in the simplest of areas…

  2. Excellent points, Peter. But the bottom line is that the wording could be improved to make it clearer as to what was meant. As you know, Australians use ‘suck’ in another context than the dictionary would perhaps assume (e.g. ‘you suck’, ‘he sucks at [activity]’, etc.)

    As it stands, we have two different interpretations (yours and mine) of the same words. Therefore, the meaning isn’t as clear as it could be.

  3. You are both missing the point that this is FUNNY!!!!

  4. I had tagged it as ‘Humor’, Suzyb, as I thought it was funny with the double meaning ;-)

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