Last night at dinner Brandon was quizzing the girls on their spelling. He enjoys trying to find tricky words to dupe Kathleen, and is very patient when Sophia insists that c-a-t ends with a g. Which is good, because after a day of squeezing out cheerful interactions, patiently cleaning up messes, gently breaking up fights, and kindly shoving knowledge into the girls' heads, I'm done. By dinner time, my greatest ambition is to shove food as quickly as possible into children's bellies, cram in them into their pajamas, and toss them into bed on my way to the couch to sit down and relax. Finally.
So asking Kathleen to spell 'prophylaxis' (which evidently I can't spell without a dictionary myself) is not high on my list of things to do during dinner. It's not even standing remotely near the thing.
But that's why we have a two-parent family. So that when one of us can't take it anymore, the other one steps in to save the children's lives. And also so that there is conversation at the dinner table other than 'eat your food! No really, eat it!!'
"Sophia, spell 'oomph-loompa,'" Brandon teased Sophia, knowing she is still in three letter word-land.
"I can spell it!" Kathleen volunteered, then spelled it.
"How about ooga-looga?" Sophia asked.
Kathleen spelled it. She really loves to spell. It's a shame that she's home schooled so national spelling bees are not in her future.
It was dutifully spelled.
"How about..." Brandon paused, trying to think of something both silly and tricky.
"Dunkleosteus?" Kathleen asked. "I can spell dunkleosteus!"
"And what's that?" I challenged, sure she was just making things up by this point.
She and Brandon looked at me. "It's a thirty-foot long spiny fish," she replied, "It lived a long time ago. I read about in my animal book."
Oh. Never mind. I sat in silent shame while Brandon asked Kathleen exactly how long ago the fish lived. I was hoping to delay the day when my children gave me that look - the one that mixed confusion at how Mom couldn't know something and contempt with her lack of knowledge - for at least a few more years. I knew it would come some day, but I didn't quite expect to be outclassed by a five year-old at the dinner table. It's now time to ban all further book reading.