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Published September 07, 2010, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: To spell or not to spell

On a recent family bike ride, I called over to my husband as the trail neared a neighborhood park. “Should we stop at the P-L-A-Y-G-R-O-U-N-D,” I said, using the spelling tactic to float the idea without getting our 2-year-old daughter, Eve, too excited about the prospect.

By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

On a recent family bike ride, I called over to my husband as the trail neared a neighborhood park.

“Should we stop at the P-L-A-Y-G-R-O-U-N-D,” I said, using the spelling tactic to float the idea without getting our 2-year-old daughter, Eve, too excited about the prospect.

“What?” Craig called back to me.

Thinking he didn’t hear all the letters, I shortened the loaded word.

“Should we stop at the S-L-I-D-E-S?”

Again, he responded with, “What?”

I’m now yelling. “Should we stop at the S-W-I-N-G-S?”

“What?” he said, smirking.

He had drawn a line – and flipped over my bowl of alphabet soup in the process.

Craig won’t spell out words in front of Eve, nor will he acknowledge my spelled words.

In fact, he goes out of his way to say whatever I just spelled. Words like “snack,” “juice box” and “pool.” And does this ever I-R-K me.

Because as soon as he says it, Eve wants it. And then I have to say N-O.

His side: Eve should learn she can’t have everything she wants when she wants it. We shouldn’t need to tiptoe around her.

“I think we should be able to speak freely,” he told me. “Just because we say something, that doesn’t mean she can have it right at that moment.”

I counter that spelling is a universal parenting technique to avoid an unnecessary temper tantrum.

I remembered an early 1990s McDonald’s commercial, now immortalized on YouTube. Young parents at a shopping mall with their two children spell out several words in their conversation: “toy store,” “birthday,” “present,” “lunch” and then “W-H-E-R-E.”

Their little girl says, and then spells, “McDonald’s,” having followed every word.

Maybe my husband has a point here. Eve will eventually learn to spell. She can already spell her name and a few other three-lettered words.

Craig asked if we’re supposed to pass each other notes or learn a foreign language when her spelling skills advance.

I’d hope that by the time she can spell, she won’t be a toddler thrown into a tizzy at just the thought of a fruit snack.

Until then, he can deal with the next T-A-N-T-R-U-M.


Sherri Richards is mother of a 2-year-old daughter and is an employee of The Forum. She’s also “Top Mom” at http://moms.inforum.com.

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