Thursday, February 25, 2010

Today's insanity brought to you by the letter C

For the last month or so, Chase has been fascinated with letters and their sounds. He's continually gathering the pieces to his alphabet puzzle and arranging them in complicated patterns to "spell" words. His favorite conversation begins with "Mama, what does _______ start with?" Being a teacher, rather than just tell him, I say the word with an over-exaggeration on the beginning sound. Then he'll ask about 100 or so more words. Accordingly, meal times now have a sophisticated audio system in place known as a BBBBBBBBroken RRRRRRRecord.

This system works well for the most part, but we've been having trouble with those pesky c's. It's bad enough that you have the hard ‹c› with a [k] sound like car and the soft ‹c› with an /s/ sound like celebrate. But on top of that you throw in all the blends like ‹cr›, which are confusing but can at least be sounded out: CCCC---RRRRR--azy. So it's tangled, but manageable.

The real kicker in the proverbial keister is that punk of a consonant digraph that goes by the name ‹ch›. That sucker can have three (3!) different sounds: /tʃ/ as in Chase, /ʃ/as in Charlotte and /k/ as in Christopher. It's enough to drive a mother of any Ch-named child ch-nuts. But I think those of us in the first two groups have dibs on the frustration since there is no possible way to sound out the name and hear any kind of ‹c› be it hard, soft, bumpy or smooth. I am not sure that even my devotion to Chase Utley would have allowed me to name my child such a phonetically confusing name had I known the consequences prior to filling out the birth certificate.

Since I wasn't aware of the aggravation that would come with telling my kid that his name starts with a letter he can't hear, I am left stuck in the constant loop of explaining all the different ways that third letter of the alphabet messes with the English language. I am so finely attuned to the objective, that I see learning opportunities everywhere I look. For instance, most (normal) moms see lunch when they look at this picture.

What do I see? I see a plate full of teachable moments. We've got hard /c/'s in carrots and cantaloupe. We've got a soft /c/ in celery. But wait, there's more! /tʃ/ comes out to play in chicken and cheese. It's a veritable smorgasbord of phonetic explorations! My lesson was going so well until Chase wanted to know what quesadilla started with: CCCCCCrap!  Lucky for me, at that very moment the bell rang for recess. Funny how that worked out, eh?