Wordly “why?”s

I checked my nine-year-old’s spelling/vocabulary homework last night — usually an easier task than checking his math homework. It still wasn’t mentally difficult, but the emotional toll was far harder.

It’s from a curriculum called Wordly Wise and each unit has a section entitled Just the Right Word, where several sentences use words or phrases that the student must replace with one of that unit’s vocabulary words. But this week, some of the sentences seemed more worldly than wordly. Here are a few examples, followed by my internal dialogue:

If you want this venture to succeed, you must get rid of any thoughts of failure. [Hmm, interesting. I suppose it’s a bracing thought for a nine-year-old, if not an adult concept. No mattter.]

He expressed a strong wish to spend more time with his children. [And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, Little Boy Blue and the Man on the Moon…]

The worst bad luck to hit the town was the closing of the shipyard. [Wow, that’s definitely an adult concept. Mass unemployment. Guess shipyard management didn’t follow the advice of the first sentence and banish any thoughts of failure.]

When Luisa’s pet rabbit died, she began writing in her journal every night for something to give her comfort. [Wow, these sentences are really leaning toward the downer side of bummer! I thought they didn’t learn about the rabbit dying until seventh-grade Science class.]

We used to shrink back in fear whenever we heard her voice. [What person’s voice could possibly make children cower in fear? I hope it’s not their mother! Is it their evil babysitter? Their teacher with another set of dark vocabulary sentences? The demon girl who lives in the sewer and calls out to them from the grate in the school parking lot? Who??? And why would you want to remind them of this horrible woman?]

Hunters who violently kill baby seals for their fur will be stopped. [Excuse me? Do we really need to teach fourth-graders about clubbing baby seals? In fact, do we need to teach them the word “slay” at all? What possible use could they have for such knowledge?]

The children whose parents had been killed were all adopted by families in town. [What the?!? Now we’re killing off parents of multiple families? What happened to them — natural disaster or serial murderer? No wonder my son doesn’t sleep at night!]

“You don’t look well. What is the matter with you?” asked Jorge. [I’ll tell you, Jorge. I just completed my vocabulary lesson and I think I need to see a therapist….]

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About Dan Bain

Dan is an award-winning humorist, features writer, emcee and entertainer from Raleigh, NC. His collection of humor essays, A Nay for Effort, has earned him fans from one end of his couch to the other. Why not join them and buy one? (You won't have to sit on his couch.) Dan will donate 10 percent of the book's proceeds to education. You can check it out at www.danbain.net; thanks!
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One Response to Wordly “why?”s

  1. cwgala says:

    That’s awesome, Dan! Loved it. It really is funny some of the stuff that comes home. The one about the parents who’ve been killed is awful!

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