So Not Her Fault

I'm a terrible speller. Embarrassing admission for a writer, I know.  My brother, who happens to be an architect, apparently inherited the good spelling genes. He is the kind of person who comes up with the 100-point, triple word score Scrabble words. Frequently. He is also the one who, during my turn, will say things like, "Shouldn't you be better at this?"

I think the spelling problem comes from the fact that I am very phonetic. And the English language, often, is not. When I was eleven I finished a book and announced to my family that I loved the main character's name and planned to use it for my future daughter. My mom asked what the name was. I said, "Fobe."  With more incredulity than was perhaps called for, she said, "Fobe?"  I said, "Yes, Fobe," and showed her the book. 

It was, of course, Phoebe.  Fee Bee. (Imagine the fun we all had when one of my best friends in college was  named Phoebe.  My entire family still calls her Fobe.)

My mother is visiting, and yesterday she and my ten-year-old daughter were playing Trivial Pursuit.  I overheard my daughter ask my mother to name the "73 year old family parakeet who died after a 100 foot fall in  1978." There was a lengthy discussion as my mother tried to make sense of the question.

My mother:  A parakeet?

My daughter:  Yes.

My mother: Who fell a hundred feet.

My daughter:  Yes.

My mother:  And was 73 years old?  Do they get that old?

My daughter: (shrugs)

My mother:  It must have belonged to a famous family.

And so on.

Finally, my mother makes a random guess.  My daughter says, "Nope. It was Karl Wallenda."

My mother:  What? (takes card) (laughs)

Me:  What?

My mother:  It doesn't say "parakeet." It says patriarch."  Seventy-three year old patriarch."

Of course.  My little Mini-Me. I couldn't love her more.


  1. I love it! Patriarch will never be the same. Your daughter brought laughter to a word rife with dismal connotations.


  2. Thanks, Rachel! After the last two posts, it seemed like something lighter was in order. :)

  3. I laughed out loud and then read this blog aloud to my mom (she lives with me). We play three-generation games all the time. :-)

  4. I'm glad it made you smile, Erica! :)

  5. This is just so awesome! You brightened my day.

  6. Cath, I'm glad.

    Davin, I love it, too. I love how long my mom tried to figure it out, like it wasn't totally nonsensical. :)


    I did the same thing with the word "beau" when I was little. Byoo. My parents got a kick out of that. Come to think of it, why was I using that word as a kid, anyway??

    English is so confusing. Luckily, our ability to spell well does NOT predestine our ability to WRITE well. Your Mini-Me is fated for great things...just like Mom. :)

  8. Sarah, you're byoo has me smiling. And why were you using that word as a kid? ;)

    And you are very sweet!

  9. I'm in a tight spot in my family. My two oldest competed in spelling bees and won some levels. They take great delight in correcting me every chance they get.

  10. Wendy, wow! I can't imagine. :) I love watching the Natonal Spelling Bee on ESPN every year--because I SO couldn't do it!