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Emily Morrison Emily Morrison
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Fowels are funny

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On the way home from school yesterday my son asked, 'Daddy, do you know what a foul is?' Jack's school is 40 minutes from home, so many of our conversations with him occur while in transit. Topics range from the color of the sky to what he and is best friend, Drew, worked on that day. Literally, he's all over the map. Yesterday, Jack was quiet, but thoughtful quiet, the kind that says, 'I'm working out the Pythagorean theorem here,' not the 'I'm just waiting for you to look away so I can pick my nose' kind.

My husband was excited to issue in a new era of car conversation: sports talk. As a man, it just doesn't get any better than talking about balls with your son. That he has lived through deep discussions about the existence of God, what happens when we die, and the fact that no one gets sent to the peace corner in Jack's school (they put themselves there) is a testament to my husband's abiding sensitivity. No subject is too big or too small for the commute home. Usually, after Jack's steady onslaught of questions, they listen to classic rock and play some air guitar (Jack solos on the air guitar while my husband drums on the steering wheel) for the remainder of the drive.

'Good question, son. I'm glad you asked. Even though sports are different, a foul is when a player does something he shouldn't have done. Take football. In a football game, when you see someone get tackled in the wrong way, then the referee will blow his whistle and call it a foul.'

Jack paused for a moment to take the explanation in. He remained quiet, but started to shake his head. Then he said, 'No, Dad, not fouls, FOWELS.'

Waiting for understanding to dawn, Matt tried to sound out the word repeatedly. 'Fa- ow-lls ... Fow-owl-s ... Fa-OW-ls...' Then he remembered Jack's endearing pronunciation problems. 'Llelow' means yellow, 'free' means three, 'berry' means very, and 'fowels' mean...VOWELS!

'You mean va- vowels, Jack. Vowels are...' and the conversation continued. Though he was bit bummed they wouldn't be discussing foul balls or face-mask penalties, they settled into a discussion of the English language and rounded the ride out with Aerosmith's 'Dude Looks Like A Lady.' Lots of air guitar and drumming on that one.

Later that night over macaroni and cheese Jack asked, 'Hey, Mumma, do you know what fowels are?'

Unsure of what word he was really getting at, I asked him to explain. He put his spoonful of cheesy goodness down and said, 'If you take away all the numbers in your name, then it would sound berry funny. That's what a fowel is. Like Addie. How many fowels do you have in your name?'

'A, i, and e. I have three, Jack.' Addie said between mouthfuls.

'Wow, Addie, you have free fowels in your name. If you take away those numbers, then you're name would just sound like 'Dddd.' That's berry funny.'

Impressed with Jack's sounding out about abilities I said to him, 'You know Jack, you're so smart. Maybe you'll be a doctor one day. Wouldn't that be neat?'

'Oh no, Mumma. I don't want to be a doctor. That's so boring. I'm going to be a rap singer.'

'Really, Jack? Why?' I asked.

'Because I like words. I like words berry much."

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