Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mrs. Washington's Secret Life

Today in class, we celebrated President Washington's birthday by making several projects and reading books about our illustrious founding father.

One of the books we read was all about George Washington's teeth. The book detailed the struggle George endured his entire life with what must have been some kind of oral disease. (And in verse, no less!) He lost teeth at an alarming rate, some due to decay, and some pulled by dentists of the time because of pain. We read about how the dentist gave George some sort of medication to numb the area while he pulled the teeth from George's jaw. The children did their customary "eeewwwww!" when we revealed that George had rotting teeth falling out of his mouth, but that aspect of the story really stuck with them.

After the story was finished, we had our usual question-and-answer session to determine whether they'd gleaned information from the story or not -- our typical litmus test for comprehension. At first, the children were asked to contribute what they remembered from the story. We got: "He had bad teeth." "His teeth had fall out." "He had some new teeth made." Finally, we said "Okay, we know all about the teeth. What ELSE did you remember from the story?" We got answers of the variety: "He was the first president." "The soldiers didn't have no shoes." (the soldiers at Valley Forge, who went the winter without adequate supplies.) "George wanted to be a soldier like his brother." "He helped win the war."

We got around to asking what the name of George's home had been, and other questions about his home life. We asked whether anyone remembered Mrs. Washington's name, and one little girl's hand went up almost immediately. When called upon, she promptly replied: "Anesthesia."

After I stopped guffawing, I said, no -- her name was *Martha.* "Anesthesia" was what the dentist gave George to stop the hurting when they pulled his teeth out. I was impressed that she remembered the word "anesthesia", but I feel sure that it won't make Martha Custis Washington's nickname roster any time soon.


liz said...

That is terrific. Poor Martha, having to deal with what was probably killer halitosis.

ccw said...

I love liz's point!

This is just so funny!

Miche said...

At least they absorbed SOMETHING from the story!

Old Lady said...

I think they absorbed rather well!

purple_kangaroo said...

That's darling

Karyn said...


DJ Andi said...

Did the book not mention anything about the cherry tree? I always remembered that.

Kids are funny aren't they? You must have situations like this on a regular basis. Too funny!