Raising a Homophonic Son

A few weeks ago, I dragged my family into downtown Baltimore for the Star Spangled Sailabration, a bicenntennial commemoration of the War of 1812. You know the war, I mean, right? The one that occurred in 1812. Actually, it occurred from 1812-1815 and according to my northern friends, Canada stomped us giving us no real reason to celebrate. I reminded them we were commemorating, not celebrating, and quietly made a note to read up on U.S. history on Wikipedia.

Truth be told, it was my husband that actually did the dragging this time. As part of the commemoration, the Blue Angels were performing in an unprecedented location over the harbor in downtown Baltimore. It was quite spectacular to say the least. But to a five year old, the most interesting part of the day came when mom and dad finally relented to his need for ice cream.

We founded the nastiest looking ice cream truck at the festivities (because it had the shortest line and cheapest prices) and sat in an urban park for children. I have no clue what the name of the park is but it’s very modern and little unusual.

As Evan started wandering a bit, Sean and I stared down at the sidewalk in front of us. It was made of individual bricks, most of them plain, some of them etched with words.

Seam | Seem

Here | Hear

Flour | Flower

Sean reads them aloud. “What’s up with these bricks?” he says with a touch of disdain. English and grammar are so not his thing. I simply respond, “What’s the matter? Are you homophonic?”

Then I quickly realized I better remind him that these were homophones. You know, words that are spelled differently but sound alike. And I was making a joke. A play on words. Yes, I actually explained it to him, which defeats the purpose of making a joke. Luckily, he knew what they were so I quickly just shut up.

But the story of homophones in our family doesn’t end there.

As adults, we tend to take homophones for granted. We don’t think much about them. We know the difference between flour and flower because we understand contextual clues. Kids? Not so much. I’ve often had to explain what I really meant.

Evan is a smart kid. When I explain it, he gets it. And he doesn’t know how to spell yet anyway so he’ll just believe whatever I tell him. But I surely got a kick out of his clever use of homophones the other day. It happened during playtime, one of those precious moments when your kids are innocently playing and not really realized that anyone is listening. And he was playing with his Star Wars action figures.

Lately, we’ve become a Star Wars family. I’m not a Star Wars geek but I can play one if needed. We own episodes IV, V, and VI (and if you are a Stars Wars geek, you’ll know that is the original Star Wars trilogy). We’ve watched them all together as a family and I have to say I understand it a whole lot better than when I was 6 years old.

The Star Wars interest has carried over to our Wii. I relented and bought Evan the Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga game. This game covers the original episodes and the prequel episodes and the Clone Wars. I know. I’m a bit confused too. I also let him buy (with his own money) a character guide to The Clone Wars.

Like most kids his age, when he’s really into something, he’ll learn every last detail, especially with me reading the entire character guide to him night after night. His favorite characters? The bad guys.

Darth Vader.

Darth Maul.

Darth Sidious.

I’ve had to learn that Darth Sidious is the actual name for the Emperor, the bad dude in charge of Darth Vader that you might have seen in The Return of the Jedi.

maul vs sidious

Even though it’s not chronologically possible (according to the Star Wars saga), he likes to have Darth Maul battle Darth Sidious. And it was during one of these battles that I heard his homophonic tendencies:

Darth Maul to Darth Sidious: “YOU like to sit a lot.”

Darth Sidious to Darth Maul: “Oh yeah? Well, YOU like to go to the mall.”

While he doesn’t realize it yet, he’s totally learning about play on words. And I couldn’t be prouder of my homophonic son.

  • http://twitter.com/KnownAsShirley Cindy’sAdventure

    Very cute story. I so happen am a Star Wars fan. Homophones are hard to explain to kids. In fact my husband had issues with the words like~their, there, they’re. I tried to explain which goes with what way. Good thing he doesn’t write often. You can visit my blog if you want http://cindysgrandadventures.blogspot.com

    • FadraN

      Oh Cindy – you’re THAT Cindy! I wrote this post just so I could talk about overhearing my son’s extraordinarily cute convo at the end. It was worth it, I think :)

  • http://twitter.com/ErinORiordan Erin O’Riordan

    Oh, Evan, so adorable. I remember when I worked in a school and read my kids ‘The Girl Who Cried Wolf.’ I had to explain the difference between herding sheep and hurting sheep – they couldn’t understand why the girl would hurt the sheep, yet want to keep them away from the wolf. Letters make all the difference. 

    • FadraN

      Oh, that’s so funny! Yes, it’s so cute how literal kids can be. I remember Evan telling me he wanted to go home the “low way.” It took me a few minutes to realize that to him, the opposite of taking the highway was, of course, the LOW way!

  • Bocafrau

    That was cute and funny. It’s amazing how much kids pick up without even realizing it. Once he actually learns about it in school he’ll realize how much he already knows.

    • FadraN

      His vocabulary amazes me and he uses it correctly most of the time. But truth be told, I didn’t want to correct him. I loved that story!

  • http://twitter.com/elektraderossi Elektra de Rossi

    so hilarious! I really initially read this as “homophobic” repeatedly. I started to get confused waiting for the homophobe part and then I realized that I wasn’t paying attention. brilliant=)

    • FadraN

      I wasn’t hoping nobody would get upset but sometimes these corny play-on-words titles just come into my head and I can’t ignore them!

  • http://lostandforgotten.wordpress.com/ Marta

    Lol. I hope to have a homophonic son too. 

    • FadraN

      They’re the best. I promise.

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