I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.

Cannery Row

Yesterday I was riding in the car with Hannah.  We were having a rear-view mirror conversation, you know, where we look at each other through the rear-view mirror.

“What are your vocabulary words this week?” I asked her.

She such an independent little thing that sometimes I forget to check her work.  Similar things have happened when I put kids into public school;  I lose track of what they’re learning.  In fact, earlier this week I was having a similar conversation with Finley.

“What are you learning about it school these days?” I asked, as we were driving to soccer.

“Stupid stuff,” he answered.  This is his pat answer.  I always have to probe.

“What book are you reading in English?” I went with a more specific question.

“We’re doing SAT prep,” he answered.  Back in the old days, we never did SAT prep in English class.

“What exactly do you do for that?” I asked.

“Vocab and stuff,” he answered, then gave a long, drawn-out “Oh, yeaaaaaah….”

“What?” I asked.

“Well, I sort of got a 30 on a quiz the other day,” he said, like he just remembered it, which is highly likely since his days are filled with more important things like soccer and tennis.

“What kind of quiz?” I asked.

“Vocab,” he said. “It was stupid.  Words like adamant and stuff.”

“You didn’t know adamant?” I was surprised. I use the word adamant. I went on, “Adamant means ‘I mean it’ and don’t you think it even sounds like that?”  I said “Adamant” a few time, like I meant it.

“Yeah, I guess,” he said.

vocabularyBut Hannah’s vocabulary words were a different story.  I asked her in the rear-view mirror what her vocabulary words were and she started reading them off to me.

“Cannery, delightful, melody, chirps…” she read.

My mind had started wandering (or was it wondering) at “cannery”.  I don’t think I knew of this word’s existence until I was exposed to John Steinbeck.  Hannah is in 4th grade.  Surely she is not reading Steinbeck.

“What’s your first word again?” I asked.

“Cannery,” she answered decisively. “It’s a bird,” she explained.

I started laughing. “I think you mean canary,” I said, putting the emphasis on the right syllable. I thought she would laugh, too, but she didn’t. “Do you know what a canary is?” I asked.

“Not really, but I figured out is was a bird,” she said, without the slightest bit of embarrassment.

“Well, you’re right, it’s a bird.  They are pretty little songbirds that people sometimes keep in cages,” and my mind started swirling with thoughts of all sorts of canary things we could do, like visit the pet store or read about how they were used in the coal mines not far from us.

TweetyToday, we’ll find a picture of a canary.  Maybe we can watch a little “Tweety Bird”.

I like this teachable spirit.  I like that she’s willing to admit she doesn’t know something, but can sort of figure it out on her own.

And I really like that she doesn’t pronounce it all “stupid.”


4 comments on “Cannery Row

  1. catterel
    March 14, 2013

    Knowing which syllable to stress can be so hard in English – it’s so much easier in a language like Spanish: I think lots of us were mizzled in our youth by this.

    • sarahlangdon
      March 15, 2013

      My father used to tell us, “Don’t put the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble.”

  2. Pingback: On Suicide | Conversations

  3. Pingback: Cannery Row (again) | Conversations

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This entry was posted on March 14, 2013 by in Family conversation, Postaday 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , .

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