This is a special memory from my own childhood.
I can’t recall what grade I was in or who my teacher was when I had my first huge public spelling failure, but I was very young. I do remember it being a very cold and dismal day so all of the overhead lights were on in the classroom. One wall of our classroom had lots of windows so when it was sunny out those lights weren’t on. In my mind’s eye, I was either in my 1st grade or in 3rd grade because of where those windows were but I can’t really be sure which.
I remember our teacher standing at the front of the class and reading the words for us to write down. I can picture in my mind my desk and the way it faced the front of the class. I can even see the paper I was using on top of my desk. When we were finished, she would call on one of us to give the correct answer. To be honest I never was very good at spelling. It wasn’t until I was in high school and really fell in love with reading that I became a good speller.
I know there were other words on that spelling test but I only remember one. When it was time for a volunteer to spell that one word I waved my hand like crazy. The teacher called on me! I was just thrilled. I had this word nailed! I was going to get it right.
I had spent the previous weekend learning how to spell my Aunt’s name. I am not even sure why but I was so happy that I had as that made it easy for me to spell this word correctly. I stood up proudly next to my desk, “foil, P H O I L, foil”. While I can’t see her face, I remember my teacher reacting with shock. “PH? Why would you spell it phoil?” I explained to her that my Aunt’s name was Phyllis and that Daddy had taught me that PH could make the “f” sound, too. “Wasn’t that right”?
It wasn’t right and I was humiliated. My teacher wasn’t very understanding either! There are many other words that have the “f” sound but are spelled with “ph”, you know. Words like phone, phonics, physician, etc. The English language can be very confusing to anyone, especially a little girl!
This is the same Aunt Phyllis who is my Favorite Volunteer, Inspiration and Role Model.
She has been in my life forever.