Parenthood lesson #31: If you never learned how to S-P-E-L-L, you will now

I’m pretty sure I had this argument with someone as a kid

Perhaps in this day and age of spell check, you don’t really need to know how to spell to write.  It is a required skill, however, to communicate in code around your kids.

Here’s an example of how spelling can come in H-A-N-D-Y.  As background, when kids use boobs to eat or pacifiers to soothe themselves, it’s easy to keep them sucking on an airplane during ascent and descent to help with ear-popping.  Once they get a little older, I’ve found that lollipops work like magic.  On our way back from California this week, Zach finished his lollipop too quickly, but luckily Eliza fell asleep (for the first time on the 5-hour flight) with a half hour left to go.  Thus, I gave Greg her remaining lollipop to give to Zach.

When we landed, Eliza woke up and began one of her world-is-ending screaming tantrums.  I looked at Greg and said, “Do you have any more of the L-O-L-L-I-P-O-P?”

Of course he didn’t.  And of course a masochistic man nearby said, “That spells LOLLIPOP.”  (“Really???” I said to him.  Luckily, Eliza missed the reference and I managed to calm her down.)  But at least I was able to inquire about it without having to say the word.  These days, I spell a lot of words.

“Is it okay if they P-L-A-Y?”

“We have B-A-N-A-N-A and I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M.”

“That’s S-T-U-P-I-D.”

“Oh C-R-A-P.”

And on and on it goes.  I remember my parents doing this.  I remember spelling out words with my older brother in front on my younger brother so we could communicate about playing together without our third wheel figuring it out.  I think the lesson to learn here is that if your children don’t want to practice their spelling words as they get older, you can tell them if they do, they’ll be able to figure out your code-speak.

Of course, by then, we’ll have to come up with different ways to say things, like ice cream will become “the frozen bovine delicacy.”  And I’m sure it won’t take long for the kids to figure out our code language.  But then it will spur on creative thinking.  So if you never learned, start working on your spelling now.  You and your kids will benefit.

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