Although my business card reads Photographer, I’ve been a Wordsmith for even longer. I cannot state for certain when I began writing in earnest, but based on my observations of my daughter, I presume it was around 2nd grade. If my daughter’s education is anything close to what mine was, it would also appear that my vocabulary has been on the decline ever since.
Perhaps it’s not just me. Quick, what’s plumule? How about a pericarp or cotyledons? Ah, I see some of you shaking your heads in communal ignorance. Don’t berate yourselves; even spellchecker was flummoxed on two of those. In her science lesson last week, my daughter’s class began studying the parts of flowers. Apparently flowers have a lot more parts than I recall. Fortunately for me, I found the list before my daughter asked me about any of them, so I may still retain a bit of my omniscient status as her father. Still, I found the moment a humbling one. If you asked me, I probably couldn’t even spell the words correctly, let alone use them in a sentence.
In Beijing, I’ve often heard parents lament at the difficulty of keeping up with their children’s Chinese lessons; my own wife must frequently delve into the Chinese dictionary to help our daughter with homework. Others talk about the struggle of relearning 4th grade math or giving up altogether and hiring a tutor. Today, I found out that after 18 years of English education, after decades of writing in English, and despite being an amateur horticulturist, my English vocabulary was bested by my 2nd grader’s.
And it’s only Monday.
Photo: LizMarie_AK (flickr)