Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Out of the Mouth of Ains: Spelling Counts

"Momma, can I spell a bad word if I don't want to say it?"

No conversation with an 8-year-old that begins this way is going to be comfortable.

"Why do you want to spell it?"

"Because some of the kids in my class say it's a bad word and they say it all the time and I want to ask you if it really is a bad word."

Sigh. New vocabulary is a part of every kid's education, even in Catholic school. "Okay. Go ahead."

"D-I-K-E. Is that a bad word?"

Mercy. I almost choked on my dinner. She just recently asked me if she was allowed to say the word "gay" after an episode of Glee; she had heard at school that that was a bad word, and she knew what the word meant, but after she heard characters on that show use the word in a calm discussion it didn't seem to her like it was always bad to say. We had a long talk about how some words aren't good to say in one context, but are okay to use in others. I thought maybe this was coming from that same realm of playground talk, but just in case...

"I want to make sure I understand what word you're talking about. Go ahead and say it out loud. It's okay; you're not going to get in trouble."

She took a deep breath. "Dick."

I dared not make eye contact with Jason. I could see a smile trying to lift up the corners of his mouth as he sat all too amused by the predicament we found ourselves in.

"Yep. That's definitely a bad word. You certainly don't want to be either saying or spelling that one. Except when it's someone's name, and then it's okay...umm...hey, you did a great job eating all your dinner tonight! Go get yourself a treat."

She didn't ask what the word meant, and maybe I should have gone there, but I was still a little in shock. Shocked that the direction I thought we were going in was not the direction we were really going in, and shocked that her spelling and phonics skills are that weak. She aces spelling quizzes; how did she not remember that words that end in "e" have a long vowel sound? So much from that conversation to ponder.

And now I just brace myself for the next set of "dirty word" questions.


Anonymous said...

It's probably because she's been hanging around with people who dig your hubby's nutsack! -BR

Karen said...

LOL This reminds me of the time I (after watching the beginning of the Johnny Carson show that evening) asked my mother what "horny" meant. Johnny had just called the horn players that, so it was an innocent enough question. Right? ;)