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    Juggling Act

    The sounds of high school

    redflower

    It’s challenging, sometimes, trying to communicate with a teenager. But there are delightful moments when they let us into their orbit. My 15-year-old daughter pulled me in for a ride the other day.

    Mom, she asked during dinnertime, “How do you say red?” I was puzzled but said the word anyway. Then she repeated it, asking if I noticed her accent. We both laughed, and the story began.

    Another ninth-grader had teased my daughter about her “northern” sounding rendition of the word. Other kids in class joined in as they sounded out some colors – red, green, blue, orange. One student had recently moved to our Charlotte, N.C., neighborhood from New York; we arrived from Maryland a few months ago. Others were from Michigan, Illinois and Paraguay. A few were native Southerners and another spoke English tinged with a Spanish accent. They giggled at the sounds of their voices, dissecting each other’s inflections. What better way to use some of the time the teacher had given them to study for the mid-term exam?

    The final word of the sound-off: Sauce. My daughter offered up the different versions she had heard at school. I repeated the word, too, along with green, blue and orange. During those moments, nothing was funnier or more important. For a while, I was enjoying, along with my daughter, the sounds of high school.

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