My Son’s Bitchin’ Spelling List

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:

1. different

2. gadget

3. barricade

4. bastion

5. batiste

6. baton

7. bayberry

8. bistro

9. bitch

10. blacklist

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.


12 responses to “My Son’s Bitchin’ Spelling List

  1. He only missed one of the third grade words? Now, that’s what I call bitchin’.

  2. Damn, Kristen beat me to the “bitchin'” comment! LOL

    Seriously, that is one incredibly smart kid you’ve got there. And nice, too! So, do you roll with “The B Word” or do you suggest he find an alternative? Can’t wait to hear what Mrs. B. has to say about this one!

  3. Hmm, as for the “B word”, Niksmom, I’m leaving it in for now. If his teacher wants to switch it, that’s up to her. I mean, it’s a legitimate word, has a meaningful definition beyond its common usage, and he didn’t mean anything by it so I don’t want to make a big deal out of it with him. It’s not like anyone at his school will know other than the teacher (oh and the entire Internet!). I guess I’ll ask him tomorrow if he wants to take it off the list and then leave it up to Ms. B. I generally feel that if we overdo it on such things as bad words, we give the words more power than ever for the kids, you know?

  4. As usual, all I can say is

    I love that Baxter. He is, of course you know I have to say it, totally bitchin’.

  5. By the way, can’t wait to see what he comes up with once he gets to “F” or “S”. 😉

  6. Oh yes, Cara….. I was just thinking that as I was reading this post….. seeing the words that my yr 3 son is finding in his student dictionary…

  7. LMAO! I think that’s the best spelling list I’ve ever read!!

  8. Totally cracking up at Kristen’s comment.

  9. Luvin this list! And you are one great mama to clearly and rationally explain it to him!

  10. I love this! it reminds me of how, when my son was little, he used to refer to potato chips as “potato bitches.”
    My brother-in-law once came home from kindergarten with a ribbon on his shirt that read: “Little Guinea Doctor.”
    His family happened to live in a heavily Italian neighborhood. The thought of brother-in-law walking down the street with that ribbon pinned to his shirt caused all sorts of consternation.
    Naturally, my mother-in-law asked for an explanation. It turned out that the class had been learning about different careers. My brother-in-law was assigned the career of doctor and his job was to take care of the classroom guinea pig: make sure it had enough water, wasn’t too hot or too cold, had things to chew on and so forth.
    My mother-in-law talked to the teacher and the following day my brother-in-law had a new ribbon that read: “Little Guinea Pig Doctor.”
    Somewhat better.

  11. OMG, I can’t stop laughing! That story made my day. 🙂

  12. I love this story! Good illustration of how even precocious kids benefit from a bit of guidance.

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