The source of pain and new vocabulary: Getting older or just plain clumsy?


“I learned about compassion today,” the 6-year-old said rather matter-of-factly as we walked home from the bus stop. That stirred my curiosity. Not a word that generally comes up in 1st Grade. Perhaps they’re really moving ahead in language and usage, I thought. Just another reason I love our charter school.
“How did you learn about it?”
“Mrs. Young told me,” she replied (Mrs. Young is the Reading teacher).
“Hmm. Did it come up in the book you’re reading? I don’t remember hearing that word when you read it to me last night.”
“No, Daddy. I told her how I helped you last night, when you were trying to take off your belt and get stuff out of your pockets.”
Double hmm, I thought.
“Did you tell her why you were helping me do that?”
“I told her you fell down and fractured your elbow.
“She said that me helping you was compassion.”
It’s interesting how kids learn new words. There are many sources: some preferred, some regrettable.
But learning a word because it applies to a particular situation, a personal experience, might be the best. I think that a word and its definition are more likely to stick with you, because you associate it with a prior visual memory the next time you come across it.
There are the words a child encounters in literature; spelling words to be learned and understood; occasionally new words introduced by TV (thank you, Qubo); words in songs, words overheard from an adult in a moment of frustration …
Of course this is a diversion from the fractured elbow. Not really much to say. Tripped over a piece of broken curb across the street from the bus stop and went down with a thud. I used my hands/arms to break my fall.
It’s just another chapter in the endless saga my wife is compiling about my clumsiness.
She’s had plenty of material, unfortunately. I point to the little ones as examples of bad luck, other influences, etc.
“Cut myself shaving again!”
“Yeah, but four times,” she replies.
“Eww! Daddy’s bleeding!”
But she tallies the big ones: broken big toe and cracked ribs; 10 staples to close the head-cracking wound in my scalp (DURING our daughter’s dance recital, I might add); the fractured elbow, the wayward table knife (you should have seen the blood!) and numerous ground-crunching trips and tumbles over visible hazards.
I shrug (not so demonstrably with the fractured elbow). It’s just part of getting older, I tell her. I’ve always been clumsy. This shouldn’t be unexpected.
She tells me that’s ridiculous. It doesn’t have anything to do with getting older. I bring it upon myself.
I shrug again (ouch!).
There are times that being an Older Dad can be a convenient excuse. I’m still looking for most of those opportunities.
On the other hand, at least our daughter’s reading teacher wasn’t introducing her to the concept and meaning of the word pity.

One thought on “The source of pain and new vocabulary: Getting older or just plain clumsy?

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