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.