Today our three year-old had homework. It was a dry-erase board with the alphabet printed at the top and copybook style lines to guide a child in writing his letters. He was super excited to have homework so I gave him free rein to write whichever letters he wanted. I took the rare opportunity to read the newspaper.
He was carefully forming letters with his left hand, tongue sticking out of the side of his mouth, concentrating on his shaky lines. My husband, Alex, walked past and stopped, looking over Tommy’s shoulder.
“He’s not doing it right.”
“Hmmm?” I muttered, not looking up from the newspaper.
“He’s not doing it properly. He’s supposed to be writing the letter ‘N’, but instead he’s just writing whichever letter he wants to.”
“That’s what I told him to do. What do you mean about writing the letter ‘N’? I didn’t see that in the instructions.”
“Look, it’s written at the bottom of the board, clear as day – ‘WRITE ‘N’ WIPE BOARD.'”
I stared at him. At least ten seconds passed before I started giggling. “You’re so funny!”
“Hahaha! ‘Write N’! That is so funny!”
“What the hell are you talking about?” he asked, with a slightly dumbfounded smile, wanting to appreciate the joke, I guess.
And it dawned on me that he really didn’t know what was so funny.
“Honey, the ‘N’ stands for the word ‘and,’ as in ‘write and wipe.'”
His smile widened and turned sheepish. He blushed a deep red and chuckled. We both had a good, hearty laugh at his expense and I was smug in the knowledge that my incredibly intelligent husband had said something so ridiculous.
I did not have the last laugh.
“Honey?” he asked.
“Look at Tommy’s letters. He’s really done well.”
“Just a second, let me finish this article.”
I looked up and Tommy proudly handed me his “Write ‘N’ Wipe” board.
“He doesn’t know what he wrote…”