Coming across my third grader’s school backpack today as I was cleaning up the house, I stopped to take a look at the homework he had completed after school yesterday with our babysitter (how awesome is she?). In his agenda notebook, I found the first spelling list of the year.
Now, let me preface this by saying that Baxter attends a Chicago Public School that is a literature and writing magnet program (and now has technology magnet status as well), and each child has his or her own individual spelling list each week, which I love. In previous years, the teachers started with the grade level words that are supposed to be mastered that year and then later pulled misspelled words from the kids’ own pieces of writing to create their lists. I knew from the form that had come home that Baxter had only missed one of the third grade words, different, and so I was not surprised to see that word at the top of his list. The rest, however, mystified – and then completely stunned – me. Read on:
Yes, bitch is one of my son’s spelling words for this week. [Never mind the randomness of the rest of the list.]
Here is the conversation that ensued:
Me: “Um, Bax, I was just looking at your spelling words. I’m wondering, where did these words come from?”
Baxter: “Well, I got different wrong on the test, and Ms. B gave me gadget for some reason. Then, since there weren’t any more words, she told me I should go to the dictionary and find words I didn’t know, and add those to my list, so I started in the B’s and found these words.”
Me: “Do you know what all of these mean?”
Baxter: “I looked up four of them to write sentences about on Friday, but I don’t know the others yet.”
Me, after asking a couple other definitions, I asked casually, “How about this one? Number 9. Bitch?”
Baxter: “I told you I haven’t looked them all up! I don’t know.”
Me: “Remember I told you that there are some swear words people say sometimes and you wanted to know what they are?”
Baxter, hazel eyes growing wide behind the blue frames: “Yes?”
Me: “Well, um, bitch is one of those words that has two meanings, sweetie.”
Baxter, brightening: “Yeah! Like zest!”
[Yes. He did.]
Me: “Right. Like zest.” [How did I not crack up during this conversation?]
I went on to give him two definitions of bitch, including the not-so-nice one.
He was mortified, and worried, but came back later and said, “But Ms. B won’t think I meant anything bad, because she knows I was just looking up words I don’t know, right?”
Right. That and I’ll be giving her a heads up over email this weekend.