As Amy wrote recently, she’s tired of teaching phonics. I sympathize.
When Bookgirl was learning to read, she also struggled with sensory issues. She didn’t adapt well to change—whether it was a change in location, the schedule, or the rules.
One afternoon after a grocery trip, she read the word “double” on a sign. But she pronounced the /ou/ as in the word “cow.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said. “/ou/ usually does say that, but in this word it just says /uh/.”
This flagrant violation of the rules was just too much. Bookgirl melted down right there in the parking lot. She burst into tears and screamed that the word was “dowble.” I hustled her into the car and buckled her in, blocking her view of the rest of the sign. Because the next word was “coupon.”
And that was my introduction to teaching phonics.
All these years later, I’m convinced that the English language was created by a race of extraterrestrials. Who enjoy practical jokes. While drunk. How else do you explain a language like this?
A few weeks ago, as Ranger was just beginning to put sounds together, he asked me, “What does SOS mean?”
I tried to keep it short, but my explanation involved telegraphs, Morse code, and ships at sea. I finally finished with, “It’s not actually a word. It’s just a code for ‘help.’”
“Oh,” Ranger said. “I thought it spelled ‘sauce.’ Like at Chick-Fil-A.”
Curse you, English.
Now, to be completely honest, I am deeply in love with our language. I enjoy the vast array of synonyms, word plays, and nuances. I never had problems conjugating ring, rang, rung; sing, sang, sung; and bring, brought, brought.
(Meanwhile, I can’t add two numbers in my head, even though those rules never change.)
As a homeschool mom, I’ve listened to anxious parents try to make their children “love reading.” Our job is to give them a solid educational foundation so they can launch into adulthood. But some kids never will really see the point in sitting and reading, just like other kids won’t ever factor numbers just for fun, or build houses out of cardboard and duct tape, or map out elaborate strategy games.
So if your child has trouble remembering how to spell “vacuum” and can’t keep “you’re” and “your” straight—well, it’s something to work on, but remember that there’s a really good reason why it’s a struggle. Several, actually. This is what we’re dealing with, people:
The answer to these heartfelt questions is—as we say in our homeschool—“Because English, that’s why.”
What’s your favorite quirk of our glorious, mixed-up language?
Photo Credit: First photo graphic design by Charity Klicka; second photo via Grammarly Cards; third photo via I Can’t Believe It.