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.
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.
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.