This year, our oldest started first grade. As part of first grade she has weekly spelling tests. Additionally, with her rapidly improving reading skills, she is increasingly able to decipher words that she hears others spell out. While there is much to celebrate in these milestones, it is also causing me a bit of a problem.
Up until this point, my husband and I have enjoyed the ability to have relatively private conversations while our children are present (ages 6.5, 5, 2.5 and 6 months) by spelling out occasional words to make our conversation harder to follow. For instance, during dinner we might discuss special evening options, like, “do you want to get a T-R-E-A-T after this?” Or, perhaps we are at church on our parish’s donut Sunday, debating whether the children’s behavior merited a D-O-N-U-T. Admittedly, conversations using this secret language usually revolve around trying to collectively deliberate whether to reward or surprise our kids with a something special, but at other times we might be spelling out a word of something more unpleasant like upcoming V-A-C-C-I-N-E-S or avoiding mentioning a topic that is not yet age-appropriate.
My super-speller now has particularly attuned ears to words that I spell out. She instantly sets her mind to decipher the word that I have spelled. If she is having trouble or is unsuccessful, she is quite vocal about asking me what word I spelled, bringing the topic to everyone’s attention, including our other kids. Suddenly, I find myself missing my ability to privately discuss things with my husband when little ears are around. I am secretly mourning the sudden death of my secret language.
So, I must ask advice of the more experienced mothers with children older than mine: do you have any way of communicating privately, clandestinely, with your beloved when little ears are present? Pulling my husband aside is rarely possible (children seem to be everywhere in our space!), neither of us speak another language well enough to use it casually (embarrassing, I know), and I refuse to resort to pig-latin. I accept that our habits have to change as our children grow older, so I am trying to celebrate spelling successes rather than begrudge every time my secrets are decoded these days. But, if there is a way to adapt for these older years, I would be grateful for it!