Posted in Lessons Learned

What are you teaching my child?

Last Updated on January 12, 2021 by World’s Okayest Mom

I’m not a teacher

I never wanted to be a teacher. I don’t pretend to be nor do I play one on TV.

If you knew my family history, you might think I should have been. It should run in my veins. My mother was a teacher. My grandma was a teacher. My great-grandma was a teacher. Two of my uncles were teachers. My grandpa was a school bus driver.

You probably hear that and think: “I’m impressed that your family is so devoted to educating the children of our community and working to make our society a better place.”

I hear that and think: “I was screwed during my school days.” I had no hope of getting away with anything. Ever.

No leniency for the children of teachers

Just ask The Sister. We couldn’t get away with a Monday morning tardy, not an in-between class, innocent hand-holding with the new beau, and certainly not an unauthorized piercing during Senior Trip. (Senior Trip, in a school of only 32 classmates, was not a myth but a real five-day, glorious trip to Florida.)

My Sister, the Rebel

The Sister, who probably did neither the first two, had a short-lived and very specific streak of rebellion in her. She got her belly button pierced when away from the parents in another state.

(Are belly button piercings still a thing? I should probably ask my 8YO. She is more likely to have her finger on the pulse of today’s trends. Have you heard of the orange justice? Yeah. Me neither. I was recently informed by My Girl that it’s a dance. I keep confusing it with the yummy Orange Julius.)

Reasons why The Sister hadn’t been rebellious prior to this occasion:

  1. She likely had no interest in showing her belly button as she was pretty modest. I also don’t think she really showed it off after getting it pierced. She certainly should have. She was a lifeguard. Just saying.
  2. Our folks really weren’t that strict and let her do most of what she wanted, which included, but was not limited to: cruising the K-Mart parking lot with the Best Sister in the World (i.e. me), playing pranks on her Sunday School teacher involving some hilariously placed baby powder, and wearing shoe store footies on her head with her bestie.
  3. She had gotten most of her misbehavior out of her system in early elementary school when she punched the local bully. The Sister isn’t very rebellious but she is a bad ass.
  4. She couldn’t get away with anything anyways because every damn family member we had worked at our school.

The Sister was back from Florida for less than 24 hours when Grandpa said a teenager’s most dreaded words:

“Either you tell your father, or I will.”

So after heartwarming experiences like that, not me, nor anyone in my generation of family members, went the route of the teacher. It’s not for me, as you will learn soon. I have nothing but the greatest respect for teachers, especially My Girl’s teachers.

My Girl’s teachers

My Girl second grade
My Girl – the too smart second grader.

We were beyond blessed last year with Mrs. Disney, and now second grade has brought us the creative and patient Mrs. Irwin – as in Steve Irwin because she has to wrangle and tame the wild animal that is My Girl. Example: My Girl wouldn’t stop pretending to be a parrot during class pictures this year.

After proving herself in the above tough situation, I completely trust Mrs. Irwin. But there are times when I have to wonder:

What are you teaching my child?

That’s not because I don’t agree with what is being taught. Let’s be honest, My Girl is in second grade. There’s not a lot of controversy in learning her patterns and basic math skills. And it’s painfully clear that My Girl learns much more controversial things in our home with my supervision. (See some backfiring lessons here.)

My concern is that she isn’t learning just her patterns and basic math skills. She’s learning things that may be beyond my own knowledge.

Ok. Self promoting sidebar. I don’t brag much. But I will say this. I graduated undergrad summa cum laude with an honor’s degree. If you’re not up to date on your Latin, that means I graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I also have a Master’s Degree. I graduated third in my high school class. (I don’t want to talk about why it wasn’t first or second. But I’m over it. Truly.)

Basically, I should be able to handle first and second grade homework. With that being said, the bottle aisle at Babies ‘R Us broke me. That was after I said, “I have a Master’s degree. How hard can it be to pick out a baby bottle?”

R is for Ransacked

Let’s start with her spelling words. To be fair to The Husband and I, My Girl usually aces the normal spelling words – things like belt, crab, clock, kite. You get it. Not bad. We can handle this. Then she gets the “challenge words.” Those are more like – musket, ransacked, scalpel, confess, dispute.

Let me repeat: Musket. Ransacked. Scalpel. Confess. Dispute.

Why does My Girl need to spell these words? Is she going to have a writing assignment about war, looting, unhygienic operating procedures, and/or courtroom dramas? I am a little disturbed by the violent imagery, but maybe that’s just me. I basically majored in words in college (with a 4.0, just in case you forgot!) so I pay a close attention to things like that.

Challenge Spelling Words
Actual footage of My Girl’s spelling words. I don’t think I needed to know how to spell ‘scalpel’ in the second grade.

To my great pride, My Girl usually aces those words too. Though The Husband isn’t a great help in practicing before the test. By his own admission, he can’t spell scalpel, and last week, we almost had a meltdown (both hers and his) when he told her she spelled “contact” wrong, when in fact, she was right.

He may never live that down.

Proper English

Now that I made fun of The Husband for his lack of spelling knowledge, I have to confess my own lack of second grade knowledge, because I know he will turn on me faster than Nike did on Tiger Woods… or on Lance Armstrong. (Man, Nike is a fickle bitch.) So like a good politician, it’s better to come clean before someone outs me.

I had to confirm what a proper noun was. Yes. The shame. Oh, the shame. Ring that bell along the streets from the Red Keep to the Sept of Baelor (Game of Thrones reference, Mom, since I know you were wondering). To my credit though, I was right about what a proper noun is; I just wasn’t sure, so I Googled it to confirm. Hey, My Girl didn’t know either! (I’m going to now bury myself deep under the covers and hide from the judgment of my fellow English majors.)

I wish that was the only English surprise we’ve seen in My Girl’s homework. I think we can all admit, as we are trying to teach our children how to read, that the English language is messed up. For example: through, tough, thorough, thought and though.

What the f-ing what?

So for My Girl’s normal spelling words, she is being taught a phonetic rule instead of memorizing the words. I’m totally on board with this. Her first week, the rule was C vs. K. This blew my mind!

In case, like me, you weren’t aware there was a rule involving C and K, here it is:

C is a cuddly letter that comes first. K is a kicking letter that often comes last, but will come first if the vowel is an i, y or e. C goes ahead of an a, o and u. There was cute drawing of a cat and kite to remind the kids of the rule.

I sat looking at the spelling rule in total awe. I didn’t know that. Obviously, I know how to spell kite and cat (I’m not burying myself that deeply under the covers in shame), but I didn’t know there was a rule about it!

Leave it to My Girl’s bestie though. After Monica told her the rule and asked her to practice spelling words using it, Jane said, “What about kangaroo?” Well, damn.

Smarter than a second grader

The problem is that these kids already think they are smarter than us. So when they are taught spelling rules that blow our mind, we’re hosed. The façade of our mental superiority starts crumbling quickly. I thought we had until the teenage years before My Girl was convinced she was all-knowing and I’m just a pee-on living in her world. But so it begins in second grade where she has challenge assignments that I don’t know how to do.

For example of some of the things I have failed My Girl on already this school year:

  • Name the mayor of our city and the city council members (What?! I don’t even think I voted for mayor this election year!)
  • Name 10 Native American tribes (Uh… her elementary is named after a Native American chief. I knew that. Does that count?)
  • Name 5 famous mathematicians (Einstein! I know one! But… is he a mathematician or physicist?)
  • Draw the lines of symmetry for the capital letters in the alphabet

When I asked My Girl if she knew what the lines of symmetry were, I swear her look just said,” What? Like it’s hard?” with the best Elle Woods impersonation. How did she nail Legally Blonde when I know she’s never seen it? Unless she snuck out of her room one night while we were watching it, which is totally possible. (See how My Girl may or may not have binge watched Game of Throne here.) Either that, or My Girl has an inner Reese Witherspoon eager to be released, like most people have an inner child. I think I prefer Reese.

Luckily, I have redeemed myself with a few of the challenge assignments that have left her totally stumped. For instance, one was to name five facts about one of the few famous basketball players to come out of Indiana. My Girl looked at the assignment and asked:

“What’s a larry bird? Does that live in the rainforest?”

Ah, My Girl, you still need me even if I can’t name five famous mathematicians.

Share your own imperfections.