A Bear, A Word and A Challenge

This morning, at breakfast, I read the piece about the Montclair Bear Drama that appeared in the “NY Times” aloud to Charlie. Here’s what I remember of the dialogue that ensued.

Charlie: Bears…in Montclair! Funny, I just did that report on Sun Bears for school. Remember? They’re the ones with the long sticky tongue to catch insects and get honey. (Blah, blah, blah….more bear facts and many comments inserted here about bears in general interspersed with information specific to Sun Bears…none of which I can remember now since I was hard at work making lunches!) Remember how I told you about that in my research, Mom? Mom, are you listening to me?

Cassie: Yep.

Charlie: It’s not like it’s a Grizzly. I don’t think Black Bears are inclined to attack humans.

Cassie: “Inclined to attack….” That’s good, Charlie.

Charlie: They’re probably just super hungry. It’s not even as though they’re just coming out of hibernation. It’s already June! I don’t understand it.

Cassie: Someone suggested they might be eating all the cicadas that have hit town.

Charlie: Could be. That’s gross, but there are a lot of them. Nature’s Bounty!

Cassie: You know, “Nature’s Bounty?”

Charlie: Of course. (Pause) If you just make a lot of loud noises, they’ll usually run away. They can’t see that well but their sense of smell is off the charts and they’re scared of noise.

Cassie: Hmmm. I’ll probably be wearing cow bells for all dog walks when we get back.

Charlie: Oh my God, Mom.

Cassie: Well…..

Charlie: I don’t get the part about the word “sighting.” They didn’t spell it right?

Cassie: There’s “sight,” something you see and “cite” like a citation for a quote or when you summon a person to court. They used the wrong word for the meaning they wanted to convey. They used “citings” incorrectly when they really meant bear “sightings.”

Charlie: Oh. Who cares?

Cassie: Well, the misused word was put in an alert by a top official in the town, the Superintendent of Schools, someone in education, who should probably know the difference between “sight” and “cite.”

Charlie: The news is about a bear! Who cares?

Cassie: The town of Montclair is practically filled to the gills, Charlie, with writers, wordsmiths and reporters from the “New York Times.” The misused word practically became a bigger story than the bear. Kinda silly….

Charlie: Sheesh! What’s a wordsmith?

Cassie: A person who works with words, who is a pro at it.

Charlie: Oh. I thought it meant someone who exaggerates. Like you.

Cassie: Nice!

Charlie: I’ll probably always remember sight and cite because of the bear.

Cassie: Good.

Charlie: Are you going to remember all the bear stuff I taught you?

Cassie: Ummm…I think so. Please don’t test me on it right now, though; I was very busy making your sandwich for school.

Charlie: Mom, the education goes both ways. You need to focus.

Cassie: Hey, I haven’t said that to you in a long time, even when I’m mad, because I know you hate it when I say, “focus.”

Charlie: I was just giving you a little of your own medicine.

Cassie: Go brush your teeth.

Charlie: I really don’t think you should do the cowbells, okay? I’ll be the laughingstock of the whole town. Mom who wears cowbells….

Cassie: Okay, Dude.

Charlie: Don’t call me Dude, either.

Cassie: But you say “Dude” all the time.

Charlie: Kids can say it to each other. Parents shouldn’t say it. Ever.

Cassie: What will I call you then?

Charlie: Just Charlie. Or, come up with something else since you’re such a “wordsmith” (makes quote marks in the air with his hands).

Cassie: A challenge….

Charlie: Oh brother…..

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