Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Bad Spelling Gene

Once I got the hang of reading, spelling followed.  I was even the spelling champion for my elementary school in sixth grade.  Since I did so well, my little kid logic translated that into "Spelling is easy, everyone can do it."  I assumed that all adults knew how to spell, regardless of how many years out of school they were, because they were adults.

Then my dad  asked me to proofread a paper that he was going to submit for publication.  I had a red pencil to circle the incorrect words; by the time I was on the second page there were over 100 spelling errors.  My self-righteous little teenaged self was appalled.  How could this be?  My father had a masters degree.  He was a Colonel in the Army.  And he could not spell at all!  I took the copy my dad had given me to the Arbiter of All Knowledge, my mother. 

"What the hell, Mom? Why can't dad spell?" 

I'm paraphrasing, of course.  I was much more respectful back then. Probably.

"How the hell should I know?"

(I'm paraphrasing my Mom, too.  All this happened a long time ago, and I've slept since then.) 

Learning that my dad was a terrible speller was a shock.  I worried that all the smart kids would find out, and I would be taunted mercilessly. Yes, that was a completely insane worry, but insane worries are the hallmark of teenagers. To me, every single misspelled word glowed large in a fluorescent neon embarrassment.

It got worse.   Not only did my dad have poor spelling, all of his brothers and sisters were poor spellers, too. Not only that, most of their children were poor spellers! This means that bad spelling is genetic, my teenager brain was horrified to realize one day in the middle of Biology class. A Bad Spelling Gene! Holy Cow. My progeny are doomed. The BSG appeared to be a dominant gene, if so many family members were afflicted.

These days, having an entire family of bad spellers, while initially abhorrent, has been kind of fun. I look at each misspelled word as a little treasure hunt, as I try to figure out what is actually being said. The funny thing is that all my dad's brothers and sisters have no trouble understanding what the others say! Communication is what matters now. It's the what, not the how, that matters.

Mamakat's Prompt:
3.) Describe a talent or flaw that seems to be in your genes.

Mama’s Losin’ It


  1. Isn't it funny how as children we expect our parents know all? It is awfully eye opening to discover the truth!

    1. Indeed it is. I dread the day my son finds out the truth--that I don't know a darn thing!

  2. I blaim it oll onn tha envenchon of spellchek. Reeli, hoo needs ta no how ta spel?

    1. Lol! See, now I want to correct all your spelling. Isn't that terrible? It is a sickness!

  3. My dad is a horrible speller. He also has horrible handwriting, so when he can't spell a word, he writes the first letter or two and then a scribbly part. Anyone reading it has to rely on context. Fortunately, my brother is the one who inherited the bad spelling gene and not me. (And I was thinking I could spell something wrong in that statement and make it funny, but I couldn't stand the thought of misspelling a word, and worse, that others reading it would think I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO SPELL.)

  4. At least your dad knew he needed help proofreading and knew who to get it from. He probably felt a bit embarrassed asking you.

  5. My kids have me pegged as the parent who does know anything. I get the "we'll wait until Dad comes home and ask him...he'll know!" quite a bit. Whatever...I'm okay with that because it means I have to answer less.


I welcome comments, but reserve the right to correct your spelling because I am OCD about it!