Word Nerd Undeterred

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Four 4th grade girls stand around, bored. I grab a board game out of the recreation wagon. “Here, play this, it’s super fun!”

They break into teams. Each has a pencil and paper. They shake the word box more violently than necessary.

“FUM!” Yells one girl with glee.

 

“Fum” is not a word!

Yes it is! Fee-Fi-Fo-FUM!

 

Mrs. Wipff, could you look up fum? Is it a word?

I look it up. “Well, according to Wikipedia, it IS a word: Fum is a traditional Catalan Christmas carol.”

The group disbands shortly after that.

Too many words. Kind of boring.

Boggle is the bomb! How can they call it boring? Maybe I’m just a word nerd.

Don’t Overestimate the Power of Review

 

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A couple weeks ago, I taught my 5th graders how to diagram sentences. We started out very simple. They liked it, because it was kind of like geometry in English class. Basically, students were to separate the subject from the verb and create dangling shelves for modifiers. After practicing ten sentences, we started our literature study and left diagramming off to the side.

On their vocabulary test today, I decided to be generous and offer extra credit for diagramming a very simple sentence related to our literary study, The Sign of the Beaver. Here are two responses:

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Where’s the other woman?

 

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I’m speechless.

 

The Spoon

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My mother arrived in America in the late 1960s from a small town in rural South Korea. She knew a little English from school, but you can imagine going from the countryside in South Korea to a small apartment building in North Carolina is not exactly a smooth transition.

My sister, brother and I were born in quick succession following her immigration. We quickly grasped the many, many nuances of the English language, especially slang. Mom tried to understand it. But the words and gestures of profanity eluded her.

One day, my siblings and I were doing something that caused her displeasure: eating with our mouths full? Fighting with each other? Getting Bs? I don’t recall. But I do remember her suddenly raising her fist in an incomplete “f*** you” gesture (no middle finger) and yelling, “Fist up!” This created peals of laughter from us and, in her frustration, she gave chase. With a wooden spoon.

The chase was thrilling. Mom and that spoon could sting. But the sight of her in that apron, her face red with anger…it was too much.

As we ran around the house – us kids laughing at the sight of our indignant mother and the epic fail of her attempt to be obscene -she broke into laughter too. Soon, all four of us were in a puddle of giggle tears.

We carried on that day in a lighter state. Life is good. Grades are grades. People are people. Poor is poor. As long as we have each other, we can laugh.

 

How to Fall in Love Again

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I met my husband at a party. He made me laugh with his amazing ability to do impressions of famous people. He could do perfect Irish accents.  On one of our dates to an Irish bar in San Francisco, we met a couple Irish tourists. Willey spoke to them with an Irish brogue and they asked him which part of Ireland he was from!

It’s 22+ years later:

22 years is a long time. Nights at bars gave way to babies, cancer (and recovery), school activities, music lessons, mortgages, bills and retirement plans. The impressions and carefree days faded away. We had have responsibilities.

I threw my husband a surprise birthday party for his 50th last night.

Relatives and friends flew in from out of state. Local friends attended the party. We had a great time. One of our guests was from Australia. Suddenly, Willey was from the Outback, talking like the Crocodile Hunter. We all gathered around him, laughing. And I saw him. I saw us.

I saw our future, our hopes, our dreams, our joy.

And it all came true: We have a home, dear friends and family, beautiful children.

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When life is ebbing instead of flowing, remember the high tide. Remember what made you fall in love. It’s always there.

 

 

 

 

The Abandon of Advanced Age

 

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When I am a woman of old,

I shall never do what I’m told.

I’ll walk in puddles of deep muck,

and never give a flying…care.

 

To the ice cream parlor I’ll shuffle,

and wolf down a chocolate truffle.

For hours and hours I’ll sit,

and never, ever give a…care.

 

With my sister, we will hang glide,

and bi-monthly, we’ll scuba dive.

I might be on a crime program,

but I really won’t give a…care.