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Secrets and Codes

March 8, 2011

I was bored. Also don't forget to drink your Ovaltine.

One of the many reasons I like being an uncle is that it often affords me the opportunity to practice my spelling. For example, although I never received an official memo, apparently the only accepted method for trying to communicate something to another adult when you don’t want nearby children to understand is to quickly spell out the word instead.

So now as opposed to merely saying “ice cream” in conversation, I must begin the lengthy process of spelling out the entire word so that a nephew or niece of mine won’t accidentally overhear the aforementioned word and immediately assume that they will be getting ice cream later for dessert. (This situation never turns out well.)

One shortcoming of this system is that it assumes that both adults can actually spell. This is not always the case. Most often this approach ends with the child watching 2 increasingly frustrated adults feverishly trying to figure out exactly what the hell the other person is trying to spell without either of them actually saying aloud the word they think the other person means. (It’s like an impromptu game of Taboo.)

The other large drawback of spelling out words in conversations that you don’t want kids to understand is that most children will eventually learn to spell. Invariably you will be made shockingly aware of this fact for the first time in some embarrassing public setting (like the time you mistakenly thought you still could get away with saying “Mommy needs a D-R-I-N-K” in a crowded restaurant in front of your children.)

For these reasons, I propose that adults start embracing other methods of communication when they want to prevent a nearby child from overhearing certain words. Some possible alternatives include Pig Latin, Semaphore, American Sign Language, Miming or Morse code. This way, even if a child does figure out how to decode what the adults are talking about, at least you know that they learned something educational along the way.

Of course this would also require a lot of time and energy on my part so in the end I’ll probably just brush up on my spelling instead. Besides, by the time my nephews and nieces do eventually learn to spell, I’m sure they will have heard worse things at school anyways (or at least that’s the thought I’m constantly reassuring myself with).

P.S. To be honest things were a little different growing up in my house however. For example, my father recently left me a comment with a rather colorful acrostic. I am still unsure if there is an additional message hidden in the typos though…

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