A Massachusetts mom isn't too thrilled with the word-ban imposed by her daughter's preschool, the AP reports. Christine Hartwell says her 4-year-old daughter Julia came home unhappy from the Pentucket Workshop Preschool in Georgetown because her teacher said the term "best buddy" was forbidden. "I think it's ridiculous," Hartwell tells WIS-TV. "Children who are four years old speak from their heart, so they should be able to call kids anything loving." The school explained to the Hartwells that the term "best friend ... can lead other children to feel excluded" and "ultimately lead to the formation of cliques and outsiders," per ABC 7.
Pentucket hasn't responded to the media, leaving a gap filled by pediatric psychologist Gregory Young: "I think that words are really important and the term 'best' does have an implied meaning to it," he says, "[but] I don't know if the right answer is necessarily denying children the ability to use that term." Media reports in recent years have referred to a "best friend" ban in European and British schools but didn't give any concrete evidence, the Washington Post reports. As for Julia, she seems unnerved by the whole thing: "Even now she goes to say it in a loving way—'I'm going to go see my best friend Charlie' or this one or that one—and she looks at me sideways as she's saying it and she's checking in with me to see if that language is okay," Hartwell says.