Day 132: If You Can’t Laugh At Yourself!

I do not tell this story because I want to disparage the youth of America.  I do not tell this story to blast our public education system.  I do not tell this story to pontificate about the amount of time students spend in front of televisions, computers, and gaming systems, instead of reading books and improving their vocabulary.

I tell this story because at some point in life, everyone has said something they did not mean to say.  At such points, sometimes, all you can do is laugh.

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The other day, I decided to go to our school library to use the computer.  When I walked in, I saw two of my students sitting at a table near the first computer bank.

“Hi, Mrs. Huffer,” Student One said, smiling.

Student Two held up a dictionary.  “Look,” he said, “We are doing the vocabulary homework for your class.”

I smiled.  I really like these kids, and I was happy that they were sharing resources and working together.

“Make sure your sentences are original and you show me you know what the words mean through context clues,”  I said.  I had to throw in a teachery reminder.

I sat near enough that I could hear their conversation.  It went something like this:

Student One: “Dirge.  That’s a funny word.  What does it mean?”

Student Two (flipping through the dictionary): “Hear it is.  It says, ‘a funeral song’.”

Student One: “A funeral song?”  She threw up her hands.   “Well that’s depressing.”

They both wrote down the definition.

Student Two: “Hey.  Let’s save the sentences for last.  Let’s write all of the definitions together first.”

Student One: “Good idea.  What’s the next word?”

Student Two: “Lamination.”

At this point, I had to stop what I was doing and interrupt their conversation.

Me: “You guys, the word is lamentation, not lamination.”

Student Two did not exactly hear me: “Hear it is– lamination.”

Student One saw me shake my head.  “Mrs. Huffer said that’s not the word.”

Student Two looked at me kind of perplexed.  He pointed into the dictionary.  “What do you mean it’s not the word?   It’s right here:  lamination.”

Me: “But the word you are supposed to look up is lamentation.”

At this point, I felt like neither one was listening to me.

Student One: “What does it mean?”

Student Two: “The act of covering or overlaying with laminae.”

Student One furrowed her brow, tapped her pencil on the table, and began to shake her head in acknowledgement.  “Right, You mean like you do to lasagna?”

Lasagna?  Lasagna!

I must admit, I could not hold back my laughter, which finally allowed me to garner their attention.

“Sweetie,” I said.  “Laminae is not Syran wrap, and the word is lamentation NOT lamination.  Lamentation is the act of grieving.”

Student One looked at me and frowned.  “I liked our word better.  Your words are all depressing.”

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 Whether she liked my word better or not, both students successfully looked up each word.

While reviewing for their quiz today, I went through each word with the class.  When I got to lamentation, the three of us giggled.

“Why are you laughing,” a young man asked.

Very composed, Student One said, “Because I feel lamentation every time I try to laminate my lasagna.”

She winked at me and we laughed.

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I gained such respect for this student!   She admitted fault and laughed at herself!

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