Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Old School

I was helping Jake, my 9-year-old, with his homework the other night.  We were working on spelling words, and were stuck on "fierce."  He was spelling it "feirce."

"No, i before e except after c," I would gently remind him.

Again, he would write, "feirce."

"Honey," I'd say, "Remember it's i before e except after c.  Then it's e before i."  Clear as mud.

Again, "feirce," in his perfect 4th-grade penmanship.

I am not a teacher.  Never is this more obvious than when I help with homework.  Though I did graduate from college, I can't remember how I learned how to, let's say, divide fractions, so it's difficult for me to explain other than, "You just know that 1/2 divided by 2 is 1/4," which is not really all that helpful.  If I can think of a way to explain something (which is rare), the only ammo in my teaching arsenal is to keep repeating it, which essentially equates to me being exponentially unhelpful.

"Sweetie, i before e EXCEPT after c.  The c in this word is at the end."  Brilliant!  That ought to clear things up!  I hate to admit it, but I was starting to lose my cool.  I'm not a very patient woman, and I couldn't understand why my top-notch instruction wasn't getting through to him.

"I know, Mom," Jake said, also getting a tad frustrated.  "It's i before e after c.  I accept that."

Ding.  (That was the light bulb coming on over my head.)

That interpretation had never occurred to me; I love the way kids look at things so differently from the way adults do.  Well, I love how my kids do it.  Your kids probably do it, too, but I couldn't say for sure.  Anyway, we had a brief tutorial about the difference between "except" and "accept," I silently reminded myself not to be such a Crabby Homework Tyrant (one of my semi-daily rituals), and we sailed through the rest of the spelling quiz.

So here is my plea: can we all agree to change the saying to, "I before E UNLESS after C?"  Would that be so hard?  It would have saved me a good 15 minutes and one blood pressure spike this week alone.

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Mary said...

I accept/except your proposal to reword the "i before e" rule.

TNMom said...

I am a terrible speller!! (as you probably know, but I don't really care :)) I hate english and reading and spelling and stuff....there are soooooo many exceptions....and rules like "IT JUST IS!" I heart math...2+2=4 always! Except, of course, when you start to put x and y into math, then it becomes fuzzy, like english. I can't WAIT to have to re-learn all this crap as my kids do! What did our parents do without the internet??? <3 Devan

RobynHTV said...

I have no idea - even with the Internet, I can't figure out my kids' math homework. I'm hopeless.

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