When I was a little boy,
Before I became a teacher,
I pronounced “vegetable” different.
I pronounced it: veh-JEH-tah-bleh.
I didn’t realize my second-grade classmates
Were giggling at me, but Mrs. Smith did.
She asked me about my pronunciation.
I told her it was the second E.
The second E, she asked, confused.
Well, the first and third Es are heard, I said,
So that second E should be heard too.
Mrs. Smith then asked me if I had siblings.
I have two sisters, I told her.
Older or younger? She asked.
One, older. One, younger.
She put her arm around me and said,
Don’t worry, you’ll be heard one day.
I didn’t know what she meant then,
I just knew I wanted to be a teacher.
About the Author
Robert A. Kaufman graduated from Brown and served as a Fulbright Scholar in Oslo. His writing has been featured in Blaire magazine, Extract(s), FD magazine, and Fjords Review. He currently teaches Upper School English at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School in Alexandria, VA.