Paper Dolls for Boys

Raising 2 crafty boys and thrifting every chance I get.

Spelling Lesson May 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — twlowenstein @ 9:19 am

This post on I’ve Come Undone, reminded me of a memorable classroom ditty.

Want to hear it? Here it goes. (please read that in the same sing song way it sounds in my head, thanks)

I had a kid in my First Grade class, a great kid, who was entertaining a group of classmates with some letters on a scrap of paper during Choice Time. One of the kids, sensing trouble, turned him in. So I called the boy over to see what was looming on the page. He nervously handed me the paper that looked something like this, Don’t be scared, it’s just a replica. I only wish I had held onto to that piece of ephemera but I handed it over to the boy’s dads at pick up.

And for the record I am misspelling fkuc in the text portion of this post not because I am worried about your sensitive eyes or because it’s a “bad word” but because I do not want to see the word turn up on my Search Engine Terms in my Stats. That would be an inappropriate context for this site because then we would be getting into meaning and I’m just talking about spelling.

Still want to hear it? Here it goes again:

So I said to the kid, “Can you read me what you wrote?” He looked at me with totally alarmed eyes and nervously started to read, “Fah, Fah, Fah” and then he shook his head like it was too much for him. So I said, “I see that you’ve written the word fkuc“. And defying the laws of nature, his eyes get EVEN BIGGER. I said, “I also noticed that you spelled it exactly like it’s spelled in the dictionary. Fkuc is not a school word but there are so many other words in the uck family that are great for school. What are some of the uck words that are okay for school?” We brainstormed, luck, stuck, muck etc. And then I told him that, “Since now I know that you are an expert on uck words I expect to see them spelled the dictionary way in your writing workshop stories!” We also added an uck family group to the Word Wall. Fkuc was not on it.

To be truthful I may have thrown the word fkuc in there a few more times. Mostly because I was working at not giving it power, it is just a word. A word that is not appropriate for school but a word that doesn’t scare me and shouldn’t hold mystical powers. And just a tiny bit because, inside, it was cracking me up.

I should point out that I did indeed still have a job the next day. The boy’s parents picked up what I put down in terms of minimizing the reaction.

We apply the same principle in our house. There are generally not bad words but just appropriate and inappropriate times and places to use them. If my kid says, “What the hell?” every now and again in the correct context at home I’m not going to freak.

We talk a lot about ways of being powerful. You are powerful when you are thoughtful, you are powerful when you figure out how to find information you didn’t know before, you are powerful when you share. Sometimes you are powerful with your mind, other times with your body, sometimes with your heart, sometimes with your actions and sometimes with your words. I just asked my oldest to give me an example of a way he is powerful and he said, “When I say Thank You.” I’d much rather the focus be on what he can say and the impact it has on others.

How do you handle this issue in your home and what in the hell should I make for dinner?

***And welcome to my new Delightful Blog friends. I hope you find me delightful, potty mouth and all!***

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9 Responses to “Spelling Lesson”

  1. A complete stranger Says:

    Sorta, kinda reminds me of the “Don’t pee on any grasshoppers”. story of your youth, speaking of potty words. That was not only powerful for a 2 year old, but very clever!

    You have a special talent for empowering people in a positive way. You are an “ucking” great teacher in that respect. I have had the joy of seeing you in action with kids; and you are beyond powerful. You are magical.

  2. Teddy Ted Ted Says:

    Just the other day we had a dinner time conversation in which the five year old was telling us how he heard the F-word at School or perhaps he said it. Probing in a manner suitable to a Reader’s Digest telling of the story, we learned, the word that was out there on the playground was a word not allowed outside of the bathroom in our house…FRAT (misspelled so as not to show up in any dictionary, but let’s just say in our family we call it “passing gas.”) That prompted the eight-year old to tell us that she heard the S-word. “Sutpid?” we asked. “No. The SH-word.” “Shtu-up,” she whispered. Might be time for us to home-school or who knows what words they’ll learn by the time they’re eighteen.

  3. zoe Says:

    i love the way you handled that. i have encouraged cade to use alternate words and he does come up with some really creative ones. then he resorts back to the potty talk. right now i am ignoring it which i am sure is driving him nutso.

  4. melissa s. Says:

    this hasn’t really come up in our house yet, but i’ll keep your advice in mind when it does. i’ve taken to using the word “bifuteki” (japanese for beefsteak) in place of swear words in front of the kids and wouldn’t you know it, they use it now too! it’s really funny to hear a 2 year old scream “BEEEEFOOOTEKEEEEE!!!” when she’s mad)

    i’m ready for the peeing on the grasshopper story now.

  5. Anne Says:

    We haven’t had the F bomb in our house yet, but other words have appeared. I ignore it, which will probably work for another year and then I will try this.

  6. Elaine Schmidt Says:

    Love your blog and family-raising stories. As a first grade teacher, I also had to deal with “words.” One story I remember well was after trying to down-play the most recent event, little Johnny piped up with,” Well, my dad says it all the time.” Naturally, the whole class burst out laughing. One more thing: Little 6 year olds are forever drawing pictures for the teacher, which we proudly display in the classroom. Right? My name was also on display on a small desk sign, because the kids like to address their drawings. Because they are special and not just for anyone. With the last name of Schmidt, even with the sign on the desk, I’d occasionally get the oh-so-common 4 letter word proudly written at the top of the drawing.

  7. amyj Says:

    oh man, that one slays me. and yes, of course I had to stifle my laughter when my 2 yearold staged the stubbing of his toe specifically so he could say “dammit”. silly man, but yes, we did try to minimize it, and watch our mouths near the small people a little more vigilantly…even after whacking my head on the corner of the fridge.

  8. Kindred Spirit Says:

    Maybe you will appreciate this one. My youngest sister was on her way out the front door one cold day when she was about 4. She was dressed in the proper attire with hat, coat and mittens. After a few minutes of not being able to make the door know work with mittened hands, with hands on her hips she declared to our mother, “I can’t get this damn door open to save my life.” Out of the infinate wisdom of our mother, (not wanting to emphasise the moment) she went to the door and opened it for her and wished her a fun time outside!

  9. Faggots Says:

    I really like the way you handled that! My best friend is currently doing Teach For America, and it’s her first year. I think I might just have to direct her to your blog.


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