by Rebecca on November 5, 2013

Here’s a tip: Don’t play Hangman with a child who is learning to spell.

My 5-year-old has finally reached the age where she no longer causes outbursts during sacrament meeting (one hour of the Mormon church’s Sunday worship service). She is a good reader, and keeps herself busy with books and drawing. She even sings along to the hymns from time to time.

I’ve waited for this moment for a long time. In contrast to our 2-year-old who stands on the pew promptly at the halfway mark of the meeting and points angrily at the exit, our 5-year-old is a delight to sit next to. We’ve been basking in the relative ease of this particular child during this particular hour of the week.

Then I taught her how to play Hangman a few weeks ago.

I went first, and used easy words like “cat” and “dog.” She loved it, and now understanding the game, drew her own noose (what a morbid society we are to teach such games to our children), followed by four lines that represented letters I was supposed to guess.

It wasn’t long before my man was hanging, no life left in his poor stick-figure body any longer. “What’s the word?” I whispered, my pride wounded at not being able to guess a word with only four letters.

“Kitty,” she responded and proceeded to fill in the blanks with C E D Y.

“Right,” I said and promptly sent her to play another frustrating round with her dad.

Last week, I agreed to play again. The noose was drawn, four lines were carefully inked onto the paper. “A?” I asked. No dice. “E?” E filled in the last two blanks. I guessed the remaining letters to the words “free,” “flee,” and “tree” before I gave up and sent her again to her dad.

“H?” he asked. It went in the first spot. So this is what we had.

H blank E E

Suddenly, she realized she had made a mistake. “Oh!” she shout/whispered. “There’s another letter there.” And she added a line between the blank and the E, so we had:

H blank blank E E

Now intrigued, both my husband and I took turns guessing letters, our Hangwoman (this time) getting closer and closer to her death, when Lydia realized another mistake.

“Oh! The first E isn’t an E. It’s an S.”


After some messy adjusting, her word now read:

H blank S S E

Our poor stick-figure was dead in her grave by the time we asked, “Well, what is the word then?

“House!” Lydia responded and filled in the missing O.


She looked eagerly at me to play another round. My spelling sensibilities couldn’t take another second of the massacre of the English language — even if the killer of spelling was simply an innocent little 5-year-old who I love more than life itself.

Resolving to purchase a spelling book the next day, I pointed my eager 5-year-old toward her dad. I then traded one frustration for another and picked up the 2-year-old, waiting patiently for the halfway mark of the meeting when her toddler demands would inevitably force me to leave the room — happily leaving misspelled words in my wake.

(I did, indeed, use spell check on this post. Let’s hope it didn’t miss anything!)



Linda November 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm

_ _ w _ u _

Linda November 6, 2013 at 6:07 pm

There needs to be a space between the w and the _. I made two spaces but when I hit submit it knocked the space out.

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