The Zoning Elf

When my oldest daughter was around seven or eight she was given a list of spelling words each week at school. She had to learn how to spell them and then write each word in a sentence, to demonstrate her understanding. One of the words was "zoning". 

Okay, now I need to pause in order to consider this word choice. Zoning? Isn't that an odd word to introduce to a tiny kid? They're not going to need to use "zoning" for at least ten or fifteen years, maybe even longer. "Zoning" should be way down the list somewhere around the word "frenetic" or "nauseant". 

Anyway, I was looking at the sentences my daughter had written to go with each word, and noticed that there was a red X next to the last one. Written in wonderfully cute, little kid handwriting, it said, "I see the zoning elf." Isn't that the funniest sentence? I loved it so much! It demonstrated two things very clearly. First, my daughter did not know what zoning meant (hence the red X). Second, she was very imaginative and had cleverly attempted to use her imagination to cover up the fact that she didn't understand the word. 

To this day, whenever I hear the word "zoning", which is to say, not very often, I immediately think, "I see the zoning elf",  and I imagine a tiny elf dressed all in green. For that reason, I'm thankful "zoning" was on the spelling list.