Wednesday: Don’t Squash that Centipede! (Yet.)

Quarantined with your kids?
Here’s the third lockdown lesson that also sneaks in some valuable life truths.

Hope you’re enjoying my lessons with layers. The takeaway on Monday was to to teach our kids to look for the next right answer. Tuesday was how art and science elevate each other. I know some families are doing these lessons on the day they are posted, but they’ll be archived here as long as I keep this website up.

Wednesday March 25, 2020
Ask any kid — from 1st grade through high school — “What’s the difference between entomology and etymology?”

After their blank stare, offer to explain the difference by imagining how your family might respond when a centipede wanders on to your kitchen counter. 
 
Entomology:
Mom wants you to squash the invader. But first Dad traps it under a clear glass and invites the kids over to see if they can identify it. Before looking it up on the internet, you see if you can recall some entomology from middle school biology. Remember? An insect has three body parts – head, thorax, abdomen – and six legs. Spiders have two body parts with eight legs. Worms have multiple segments with no legs. But then you remember! A centipede has a segmented body with up to 34 legs. The family observes the creature for a moment or two. Finally, you make mom happy by squishing it and making sure no guts residue remains. That’s entomology at work.
 
Etymology:
Mom wants you to squash the invader. But first Dad traps it under a clear glass and invites the kids over to see if they can determine the origin of its name. Discussion ensues describing how words can often be broken down in parts. Centi + Pede. Dad points out that there are one hundred cents in a dollar and one hundred years in a century. Also, you pedal a bike with your feet and people who walk down the street are called pedestrians. So centipede means “100 feet.” The family observes your newly-named centipede for while. Finally, you make mom happy by squishing it and making sure no guts residue remains. That’s etymology at work.
 
See how little things — just a couple letters — can make a big difference?
 
Details matter. I’m a fan of big picture thinking. But, if you take care of little things, there’s a much better chance that the big things in life go a lot smoother.

That’s why you bring three sharp pencils to take your SAT. You proofread your resume for typos. You change the oil in your car. You make sure you don’t hit “”reply all” when sending an email rant. You check the expiration date on sour cream.  And you never confuse a bandana with a banana.
 
Remember. It was a failed O-ring seal that led to the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. It was an overlooked radio message warning about icebergs that led to the sinking of the Titanic.
 
Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

The Bible confirms, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)
 
So get the little things right. Measure twice, cut once. Read the instructions. Proofread your work. And please don’t depend solely on spell check.
 
Be well,
/jay
 
What’s up with Jay? I’m choosing to remain optimistic. Of course, Rita and I are staying home. We are desperately missing real-live hugs from our grandkids, although Skype is nice.

Currently, vying for my next book project. My agent had actually negotiated a nice contract which was emailed to me from a New York publisher last week, but the entire book was cancelled the very next day due to uncertainty about the virus.  Erk.

 

illustration by Geneva’s own Rex Bohn

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