How to Tell You Married A Smart Kid

This morning at the bus stop two nine year olds were telling me their spelling words were easy this week.

“One of the words is ‘girlfriend!’ Isn’t that weird?” said one of the girls.

“Well, actually that’s kind of hard for some of the kids. I know ‘girl’ and ‘friend’ can be hard words to spell when you are just starting out,” I said. “‘Girl’ is really confusing at first.”

“I can spell ‘girl’!” said a 7 year old. “Is it ‘G’… huh. Um… ‘G-R-I-L?’”

“That’s really close, but it’s ‘G-I-R-L.’ See how that’s confusing?” I said.

When I came into the house I told my husband about the conversation and he immediately said “Why would ‘girl’ be hard?! It’s easy!”

“Well, when you are a kid, ‘girl’ is really confusing because when you sound it out it sounds like the ‘R’ comes earlier than it does. It’s easy to mix up where to put that ‘R.’”

“I never had that problem!” said my husband. “Are these kids just stupid? It sounds like a vowel comes before the ‘R!’”

“It’s a really common early spelling mistake. And it’s also easy to flip around the ‘I’ and ‘E’ in ‘friend.’” I said.

Because, really, it is. I remember being confused by those very words. I remember my friends (or “freinds”) screwing up these words over and over again long past when we had them on a spelling test. Also, when you sound it out “friends” sounds like “frends.”

“I just can’t imagine spelling that wrong! Why? Why would that be hard?” said my husband.

“For some kids, those words are really tricky!” I insisted.

“No wonder I won all those spelling bees,” said my husband.




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4 Responses to How to Tell You Married A Smart Kid

  1. barney

    In my country (Spain) we don’t study spelling. But we do study ortography (how not to mistake v-b, j-g, y-ll, z-c, h-empty, and rules for placing accents, mostly). I think there were a few ortography contests for kids. I always thought those were in imitation of US spelling bees. From the movies, you know.

  2. Jan

    The switching of vowel-consonant order is pretty common in English; r-i has switched a couple of times I can think of right off. In Middle English, our “bird” is “brid” and our “third” is thrid.” (This sort of switching is called metathesis.)

    So your kids are just extra-smart linguists in the making!

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