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Challenge: Stretched Too Thin

Dear Spelling List: I Can't Deal With You...

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There you are. Truly, you never change, you with your pious phonetic sense, except when you throw out some random silent P. What is that?

I imagine if you were to answer me, you would give some easy response. But I know you so well. I have known you since 1976.

You have the ego of a prize fighter. Your one, two punch? Another silent letter. And you knock out another human being with your frenzied malevolence muddle.

Don’t look at me like that. You’ll be surprised to learn, I am a professional writer. My best friend is the thesaurus. And she makes your simplicity laughable. I really thought, when I faced you again you would be powerless, alas, auto correct is wholly ignored in the first grade.

All those years ago, I could barely master you. Who are we kidding, you and your challenges defined me. Dick and Jane and their dog Spot mystified me. Alas, dyslexia, and you mocked me. Maybe had the childhood reader hero and heroine been more creative, Tops would have been a cute name for that little dog.

“See Tops run with Dick. See Tops run with Jane.”

Totally plausible.

Still, as you sit there, looking so blameless on my kitchen table, I can’t believe you are back.

It is really none of your business why we meet again. But, you won’t let this go, will you?

Well, if you must know, you are back because after the first batch of children ran through these halls mystified by your lofty rules, such as “i comes after e except after c,” we decided to open our home to foster care and adoption. No, they are not my grandchildren. I am their mom. And that is how you got back into the house.

The new children will need to learn to spell.

I am generally a kind person, but I really do hate you Spelling List.

Yes, I knew you were coming, although I thought it would be after the Thanksgiving break.

If we are to be totally honest, in the bliss of motherhood and my duty to cut hot dogs and grapes into sixths, I neglected to acknowledge your imminent return. Still, your arrival is like lemon juice on a paper cut. A cut inflicted no doubt by you or your partner in crime, Math Facts.

The both of you should be ashamed. What with your Friday deadlines and time-consuming stresses. You lord over simple dinners of macaroni casserole, waiting impatiently for some innocent to finish their broccoli. I propose that children actually love broccoli. They fake contempt and hold out eating the last cold cruciferous piece, just so they don’t have to mess with you.

Were it not for you Spelling List, children would feast on broccoli and carrots. They would drink all their milk and then run and play outside, wholly oblivious to your nonsense. Who else could imply something as confusing as “i before e except after a long c but not when c is a "sh" sound and not when sounded like 'a' as in neighbor or weigh.”

Well played you insufferable beast.

We know you and your games. Heaven forbid that rules be implemented to avoid chaos. We are at peace until we must spell ancient or weigh. And then you lie there with pompous malice, determined to make another 4th grader confused and leave another parent lying awake recounting how they failed as mother or father.

Truly you are so manipulative.

Next to sensory disorders and teen pregnancy, you can make any one of us good parents look like a monster. I caught a glimpse of myself in the hallway mirror screaming, “YOU DON’T SOUND OUT ‘THAT’ IT IS A SIGHT WORD! NO, NOT THAT, SPECIFIC OBJECT JUST THE WORD IN REGARDS TO SEEING IT IN A SENTENCE!”

What?

Who is on first?

Confusion and chaos, that is what you crave. No one else, not even a wicked mother-in-law creates such bedlam like you do Spelling List. I would use you to blow my nose and wipe their tears, but I am no fool. I am seasoned, professional mommy.

I will tuck you in a drawer long after the car rider line delivers my baby to your impending side kick, Spelling Test. For I know, in five weeks, you will need to be revisited for quarterly review.

Fool me once, shame on you… fool me twice, and I have to call every other mother on the class roster to get you back.

You would love that wouldn’t you? Me, begging that skinny mom from the PTA to read the list to me while she bakes homemade cookies and irons everyone’s shirt. She is just a pawn in your game of making me feel less than.

You are so cruel.

Yeah, Spelling List, we go way back. And here we are again. Ten neatly printed, phonetically and alphabetically organized words. Cat, bat, ball, tall, dog, fog, log, to, two, too, and the dreaded bonus, them – you act so innocent. But I know, it won’t be long, and you will start tossing out haughty words like liaison and cemetery.

You’ll self-inflate your importance by making it a sport. Leaving me to pick up the pieces of a defeated nine-year-old who was dismissed from the stage of the regional Spelling Bee for failing to spell conscience.

Something you don’t have.

I have no choice but to let you dominate our home, whether I do or I don’t you’ll be back. A crisp new, loftier version of yourself will arrive on Monday, behind you will be the measurement of my worth.

It will be then, when I open that yellow “take home” folder with pockets, no brads, that I will come face to face with my calling. Spelling Test will be waiting, she will be laced with condemnation or bolstering with prideful smiley faces. Dog eared in the corner are “success” coupons for personal pan pizzas and one token to Chuck E. Cheese.

You and your games.

Unstinkin-believable! You know darn good and well that one token at Chuck E. Cheese is a joke! You just never stop. And I don’t care if the score reads 110% - ask Math Facts, that isn’t a real number.

So, here we are again. Me baring my soul and confessing my revulsion for you. You are here to take my time, define my child’s abilities, and progress the ability to communicate. You are a necessary evil, and with that, I agree. I must face you for the next years, and so we might as well get along. But know this, I have you pegged. I know what you are up to, and I don’t care if he wins the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C., I am not going to redeem that coupon to Chuck E. Cheese and this time, when we are done, you cannot come back.

Do not sneak into one of my grandchildren’s back packs and innocently find yourself here, none of it will be allowed. For I am nothing without words, and with modern technology, I barely recall your toxicities. I raised a business owner, a Marine, a yoga instructor, and our teen is on the honor roll. So, let’s do this Spelling List, but make no mistake, your days are limited.

Can you spell Hasta La Vista?

I didn’t think so.

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