Simply Put

I am the children's chorister at church and part of my job is to teach them new songs about what we are learning this year. One of the songs is all about Old Testament prophets. It has nine verses, each about a specific prophet. A while back I was teaching the words about Noah:

Noah was a prophet, called to preach the word;
Tried to cry repentancem but nobody heard.
They were busy sinning, Noah preached in vain.
They wished they had listened when they saw the rain.

Most of the words are pretty straightforward, but I wanted to make sure that the younger children knew what it meant that "Noah preached in vain." So I asked some of the 9 and 10 year olds if they could explain what "in vain" meant. My hope was that they would put it in simpler terms so the 4 and 5 year-olds would understand better. One of the older girls said, "It means it was futile." I complimented her on that great word and asked if anyone else had an idea. Another boy raised his hand and said, "It means that it was to no avail."

By this time, I was at a loss and so flustered by their vocabulary that I decided to make it really simple - "Noah preached in vain" because it had to rhyme with "when they saw the rain."

What I was really thinking was, "Are you kidding me?" What 10-year-old knows the word "futile," or the phrase, "to no avail?"

Is that how kids talk on the playground these days?

"I waited the whole recess for a turn on the swing, but it was to no avail."

"I tried to study for my math quiz, but it was futile since I've been glued to my X-box this week."

"I begged in vain for my mom to let me wear my wheelies to church."

If so, it's important to let the English teachers know that persistence is not futile.


the lizness said...

probably just their smarty pants parents who use big words and make them go look it up in the dictionary when they ask what it means

Angela said...

I think this story is SO classic. And I thing your explanation is hilarious. And make no mistake, your boys will come up with words that not only the kids don't know, but the poor chorister probably won't either. Some things just can't be helped. :)