My kids had just went back to school yesterday after a four-day weekend. I asked them in the car on Friday if they had any homework. No one did. I asked again a few times over the weekend. Again, the answer was no. So imagine my surprise while I was blow drying my hair 15 minutes before we had to leave for school on Wednesday when the two youngest kids came in the room to ask me to study spelling with them. Only a true multi-tasking mom can give two spelling tests at the same time over the sound of a blow dryer.

My son’s test was a little tricky for him and one that I wished we had gone over more than once. He had to take words like heavy, brave, smart and thin and add -est or -er to it. I had to quickly go over dropping the “y” and changing to “i” and when to add another consonant. He got a couple wrong on my test so I hope he did better later at school.

My daughter came to me with spelling AND definitions. This is not the norm. I have complained in the past that the kids are given spelling words without definition. How are they supposed to use it in a sentence other than, “Transient is one of my spelling words.”? This week’s words went along with their poetry unit. It has been a long time since I had to study poetry and/or know the definitions of these words. Although I love the written word, it is very rare that I use “personification” in my conversations. I also forgot what the difference is between “metaphor” and “simile”. I had just been referring to comparisons as “metaphors”.

The one word I remembered, although not the definition, was “onomatopoeia”. I think I only remember the giggling in the classroom when the word was pronounced. (ä-nə-ˌmä-tə-ˈpē-ə) Anyone remember the definition? Come on. Think back. It is a group of words that imitates the sound they denote like “tap” or “buzz”. I guess they have a name for everything. But outside of English teachers and poets, who needs to know that?

Some of what they teach in school is like items on the gift registry of the new bride or new mother. (By the way, that is a simile, not a metaphor.) People tell them that they “need” to have the butter slicer or the wipes warmer. In reality, it might be used once and then shoved in the back of the drawer. You should be able to pick and choose what works for you. Of course, many of us don’t know that until later. We rely on what others tell us we need.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that with education? If fate could step in and tell our younger selves that we will never use that information again. It would have been more effective to learn things that you need in life like how to save for a rainy day. I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit from that knowledge, but it is something that many people have never learned.

Unfortunately, we do not know what we will need as students, new brides or new mothers. Fate does not open its books to show you what is in store. You are educated by parents, teachers and other influences in your life. The lucky ones are given the opportunity to expand on that knowledge. A lot of your education is learned outside of the classroom. Some learn by the school of hard knocks. Some learn by trial and error. Some never learn at all.