Gypsy's Travels

Friday, October 26, 2007

Proper Words and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

I worked in an inner city hospital of a large city, a designated Level one trauma center. We never knew what would come through the doors. I thrived on the chaos, trauma, people, all the out-of-the-ordinary happenings and cases. It was energizing. I was an adrenaline junkie. All the time I worked there, I kept a journal. I reread it occasionally as a reminder that outside my carefully controlled life, there is another world. Perhaps, one day, I will allow glimpses into that world through my writing.

While I was having a peanut butter sandwich for lunch (I need to go to the store :) and thinking about what to write today, I remembered my 9 year old GD-Em's experience at school. She is being taught to write , and say, what she means. I would not have thought that would be a challenge for her because she has always been very literal. For instance, when she was two years old, she always insisted on being right next to me in the kitchen while I was cooking. One day I almost tripped over her.
"There are too many little girls under my feet!" I announced with some frustration.
She immediately stopped what she was doing and began looking under my feet.

Thus I expected her to be able to explain things rather well. Indeed, it only took her a couple of tries to get it right. For a school assignment, she chose to write instructions for making a peanut butter sandwich. The teacher made the sandwich using her instructions.
"Put some peanut butter on the bread," Em wrote.
The teacher took a small dab of peanut butter and put it on the bread and gave it to her.
Em was more explicit on the next try.
"Put peanut butter all over the bread."
The teacher carefully spread the peanut butter all over one side of the bread, turned it over and spread peanut butter all over the other side of the bread.
What a wonderful way to teach children to think about what they what to say and to get their points across properly.
GD-Em finally did get a proper peanut butter sandwich and learned a lot in the process.

As writers, professional or not, we all struggle to use just the right words to get our points across. Whether we write books or letters, the words we use are important. It is too bad many people lazily rely on common trash words instead of searching for one that will convey the meaning they desire. If you are interested in expanding your vocabulary and saying exactly what you mean check out Wordsmith. You will be able to confound your adversaries and never be at a loss for words again.


  1. I also have worked with C8 and her writing and speaking, by translating what was said into, "Is this what you mean? OH1 then you must say it this way to mean that. After using this as a game, the lesson seems to have sunk in.

  2. One of these day's my left little finger that was messed up playing VBall will work correctly, or at least I hope so. It should have been OH!

  3. It's funny, when you work around little kids, it is second nature to check where you walk, as well as drive.


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