Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Say Pumpkin, I Say Punkin

October 25, 2010

I'm going to have to do a happier Halloween post, because honestly, that picture in the post below creeps me out whenever I look at the page. I've got to move that puppy farther down so it's not the first thing I see when I click on the blog.

When Bree was in kindergarten, they did a whole unit on pumpkins and Fall during the month of October. They did Fall leaves, they drew jack-o-lanterns, they counted pumpkins. They also learned to spell some Fall-themed words, including pumpkin. It was a hard word, a bonus word for a kindergartener, but Bree was a strong speller already, so when she and a friend decided to study before their quiz, she thought she'd have no problem with that or any other word on their list. Her friend asked her to spell pumpkin. "P-U-N-K-I-N," she spelled, confidently.

"Nope. Wrong!" Kids get a weird sense of elation when a smart kid get something wrong. Why is that?

"No way! That's not wrong. That's how you spell it: P-U-N-K-I-N. You're wrong."

"You are wrong. There's two "Ps" in pumpkin. Plus, there's no "N". It's supposed to be an "M"."

Bree put her little hands on her hips. "Two "Ps" in punkin? That's dumb. There's no other "Ps". I should know how to spell it; that's my nickname! Aunt Lisa always calls me Punkin.

They settled it the way most kids would; they went straight to the source. Standing in front of their kindergarten teacher, Bree was certain she'd be able to verify that she was, in fact, correct. Hands on hips, she spelled out Punkin, awaiting the confirmation she was sure would come. I imagine her teacher stifled a smile when she learned that Bree was, in fact, spelling her nickname. What she was not, however, spelling correctly was the standard, everyday run-of-the-mill version of a pumpkin. Bree was wrong. Her pride was hurt, and she felt betrayed. Aunt Lisa had been calling her the wrong thing all along! It took quite a bit of convincing to let her know that Aunt Lisa did in fact know how to spell pumpkin, and that Bree was a very specific and special brand of "Punkin."

Kindergarten was also a source of chagrin for me during this time. Up until Bree started school, we had always purchased pumpkins and decorated our jack-o-lanterns by painting on the face or applying stickers or plastic features, a' la Mr. Potato Head. There was no carving of pumpkins in my household, for a couple of reasons. One should be self-evident, if you read my previous post. I am not a fan of knives in general, and at Halloween time, I become downright skittish about them. At the very least, one could cut off a digit, and I'm quite fond of all of my digits. And at the very worst? Well, have you seen the movie Halloween? You know how old Michael Meyers was? Yup...he started down his dark path right about kindergarten age.

The second reason was much less rooted in sub-concious fears. The truth was, I just didn't like the mess of gutting a pumpkin. Digging my hands down in all those pumpkin guts--well, I just never saw the appeal. Then kindergarten came, and I was ratted out. My kid found out that I had been holding out on her all those years, and that there were pumpkin seeds to be roasted and pumpkin pies to be made. (She hadn't yet figured out that I'm no Martha Stewart and those innards would be just as well off staying right where they were.) Plus, she was like an alien outcast to all her friends for whom pumpkin carving and pumpkin seed roasting was an annual tradition. She had no idea there was anything inside that big ol' gourd until those kindergarten folks got to her. That was, by the way, the only year I ever tried pumpkin seed roasting or making a pumpkin pie from scratch. The hype was completely overrated, in my opinion. But I never again got away with not actually carving the jack-o-lantern again.

Kindergarten betrayed us both.


  1. Who knew kindergarten would bust it wide open like that?

    I don't like emptying out the stringy innards either and I don't cook the pumpkin insides, but the seeds...those I roast and LOVE!!!!

  2. It betrays us all...in certain ways.

  3. Not a big fan of pumpkin guts. Pumpkin beer? that's a whole different story. But i guess that's not appropriate for kindergarten.

  4. What? You mean that I have to start gutting pumpkins and using my non-existant creative side to make jack-o-lanterns?? Ewww. I don't wanna. I think this will be a tradition that she can do with the baby daddy. That's my vote. Stupid kindergarten.