Our school held a “remote learning day” last month, which is basically defined as “one Infernal ring away from fresh hell”. The two older kids managed it on their own for the most part, thank goodness, but the six-year-old first grader needed one-on-one attention for the entire seven-hour process. At one point we were on the living room floor detaching and reattaching compound words he’d cut out of a worksheet, and I’d just explained that although the word “doctor” was on the list, it wasn’t actually a compound word. He said, “But ‘dock’ and ‘tore’ are both words!” After some more discussion and explanation about how “doctor” must have been included by mistake, we decided to set that word aside and focus on the others. After the reassembling process (which took extra time because he identified “teacup” as a mashup of the original words “teapot” and “cupcake”, as well as “hairbrush” as a fusion of parts of “haircut” and “toothbrush”, but using those new words would have left us with “toothcut” and “potcake”), he was supposed to take a photo and post it to the school-moderated app aptly named “Seesaw”. I was drinking coffee at the time, naturally, and out of pure coincidence, my mug du jour boasted a snarky language-snob slogan. I didn’t make this connection until my pupil showed me the picture he’d taken on his iPad as proof of assignment completion, an image in which both of my knees and my cup of caffeine were featured, but after seeing my mug juxtaposed with his homework, I couldn’t miss this photo-op setup:
It may seem staged, but, my child as my witness, I assure you that this was a very real-life situation. Did the words on my mug appear this clear in the photo my child took? Definitely. Did I catch it in time to have him take another photo without my coffee mug (and my knees) in it before he posting to the school site? Just barely. Good thing, too, because I’m sure his teacher had quite enough of me that day considering that we sent in 39 answers for the activity “find twelve words using the letters in ‘butterfly'”. If she brings it up, I’ll just say that my toothcut into a potcake but the doctor had been put in a compound.