English was always my best subject in school. Now, please don’t judge this statement off of my blog posts. This things are chalked full of grammatical errors, run on sentences, there is no real structure to my paragraphs, and I will randomly CAPITALIZE everything. So, there you go. But, I promise I loved English and always got A’s.
Let’s take it back a few years as to why English was always my strong suit. I have a mother whose degree is in journalism. Do you know what that does to a kid? Most 6 year olds who throw a fit at a restaurant get taken to the public bathroom for a “spanking”. Most 8 year olds who talk back to their parents get sent to their room with no television. Don’t eat your dinner? Standard punishment would be no desert. Pretty common disciplines. NOT at my house. If I didn’t share my toys, I would have to write an essay about it. Got a note home from my teacher saying I wasn’t “playing well at recess”? Wrote an essay about it. I’m talking this was our MAJOR form disciplining.
I am sure you are thinking, “If it was always your punishment, how could you end up loving it?” Ya, I don’t really know the answer to that question. And honestly, I don’t think my mom even looked at it as punishment. It just went along with her “hippie” style parenting methods. Most mothers were teaching table manners, my mom was letting us finger paint at the dinner table while eating our chicken fingers. Other girls were learning how to braid their own hair and match clothes… I was still wearing my Spice Girls Halloween costumes to school. I don’t even know if she would justify it to the other moms; I think she just wanted to raise me different. So, away with the spankings, and hello to “expressing your feelings on paper.”
Now, as I got older, the essays didn’t stop. The actually came with criteria and she would even grade them. The best was when she got the brilliant idea of sharing them at the dinner table. This would help us work on our public speaking. So, one at a time, my brothers and I would stand up and read our “assignments” aloud. The topics would vary:
Owen’s assignment: Why is it important to NOT lock your sister in the bathroom while she is getting ready for school.
Zac’s topic: Why is it NOT a good idea to zip Owen in a sleeping bag and shove him down the stairs.
Kellye: Do you really think it’s appropriate to wake your brothers up at 5:00 am by belting out the opening number of Les Miserables at the side of their bed?
Whatever the topic was, there was always a main theme to these fun little assignments: “What have you learned from this situation?” And of course, “How will you make sure it doesn’t happen again”
Now, as we got older the public speaking part of the program became much more entertaining. My older brother Zac and I would have a running competition on who could incorporate the BIGGEST vocab words. Our goal was to have it chalked full of huge words so that our parents could literally not understand the speech. I am not sure why. We would spend an extra 30 minutes looking through the thesaurus just to try to win. I looked through the box of papers from our childhood and our papers wouldn’t even make sense. But, I remember feeling so accomplished knowing that my “gaffe” beat his “error of judgment” at the end of the speech. Weird kids. Don’t judge us.
I must admit, this method of parenting really worked. By the end of dinner, we were hugging it out and sometimes shed a few tears. We learned how to communicate effectively and became pretty good at confrontation. And most importantly, learned how necessary a thesaurus is in every day life. ☺
Anyhow, I never had the desire to study English in college, or follow in the footsteps of my mom and become a journalist. I honestly thought all it was good for was journaling and blogging. And I would maybe pass down the discipline to my kids. But I never saw myself using it on a daily basis. Then, I came to Cambodia.
I know I have mentioned that I teach English here. I knew it would be a part of my summer, but I envisioned teaching little kids words like “sun”, “dog”, “and cat”. Maybe using some picture cards and some fun songs. Instead of little kids, I got University students. Instead of words like “cat” and “dog”, I got Level 8 English students whose lessons are on “Irregular Past Participles Ending in –En”.
So, thanks mom. I knew our dinners would come in handy one day ☺