Revealing Comments


Students sprawled about the room, reading independently, and I sat criss cross applesauce, working down on the rug with a strategy group. Other than our low voices, there was no talking in the room. As I finished up, I sent my group members back to their independent reading, and the sound of intense, hushed conversation caught my ear. Looking across the room, I saw two boys, heads bent over a book, chatting urgently. I approached.

“What’s up, guys?” I asked.

“Mrs. Hogan! There’s an inappropriate word in C’s book!” blurted Max, who could be considered a budding classroom authority on such words.

I looked down at John, the consummate rule follower, and he nodded vigorously, eyes wide.

“What is it?” I asked, already considering the possibilities.

“It’s right here,” John whispered and pointed. I looked down at the page and sure enough, there was the offending word (not one I’d considered, but one I’d now add to my mental list). The sentence referred to “three bitches.” A quick glance at the context and the cover confirmed that the book was (thankfully!) about dogs.

“Oh,” I said, “you guys are right. That is a word that some people use inappropriately, but what it really means is a girl dog.” (And yes, in retrospect, perhaps I should have encouraged them to use context clues to figure that out, but in the moment, I went with nipping this particular conversation in the bud.)

“Oh,” they said and nodded in apparent understanding. John looked relieved.

After a second, Max’s nod slowed and he looked up at me, a slightly puzzled expression on his face, and said, “Son of a girl dog, you mean…”

What? It took a second for that to register, then…

Ack! No! That’s not what I mean!

“No, Max,” I said firmly, “just a girl dog.”.

“Oh,” he said doubtfully, “Ok.”

16 thoughts on “Revealing Comments

  1. Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski says:

    Ha! Love this small moment and I totally think you took the right approach.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dogtrax says:

    Kids will always find new ways to use new word contexts … This a perfect slice, the window into the classroom with a little hushed mystery ..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa Corbett says:

    This is a great small moment! Two of my students had a similar concern when they found “shut up” in their book. Sounds like you were ready!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. haha. kids. they see everything we overlook.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Debbie Lynn says:

    Cute! I wish I had kept a journal of all of those cute stories to publish after I retired! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Adrienne says:

    Too funny. You captured the moment well. I think I will think “Son of a girl dog” next time I hear the term used.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad to see you blog about these moments in your classroom for the online book you’ll publish of schooling in the early 21st century.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lisa Keeler says:

    You are so right. And the moment you describe is precious.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alyssa Griffin says:

    I love the way you redirected instead of freaking out or getting mad. This had to be a moment that was very hard to have self control and not laugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I admit that I went over to my desk immediately afterward and jotted down a few key phrases so I could write about it later. I knew I had a potential blog post on my hands! 🙂


  10. arjeha says:

    Thanks for the smile. As Art Linkletter Spain, “Kids say the darnedest things.”


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