Some words are so much on your mind, that they're always just a hair away from being pushed down the direct-to-mouth chute and landing out in the world.
For example, if you're eight years old and you're thinking about poop, the chances are extremely high that the word "poop" is going to tumble out of your mouth. Now the kid next to you is thinking about poop, and has to say the word as well.
While reading Charlotte's Web aloud, with Wilbur's and Fern's and Templeton's names floating around near the direct-to-mouth chute, it's easy to accidentally call a student by the name of juicy, delicious-looking farm animal.
Kids needing to ask me a question reach in and hastily grab the first word they encounter. "Mom! Can I pass out the lunches since Sylvio's not here?? Ahh! I just called my teacher 'Mom'!" Once in a while the grabbing for a word is so arbitrary I even get called "Dad" or "Grandma."
This hasty word selection phenomenon is dramatically heightened when playing The Letter Game. During our morning meeting activity, or a drama class warm-up, the kids put their minds to the test to see how many words they can name that start with a particular letter - no repeats. When it's your turn, you just grab the next "L" word that floats into your consciousness and blurt it out. If it's not the fourth time that this same word has been attempted, and if it's actually a legitimate term, any word is fair game.
Well....almost any word.
A couple of months ago we were playing this game with the letter T. By the third time around the circle, several kids were out after failing to produce a word that met the two criteria. When Dylan's turn came up again, he corralled all of the T-word possibilities in his brain, and fished out one that was a legitimate word and had definitely not been used before.
"Tampon!" he exclaimed. With the exception of one other student who let out a shocked noise, and a teacher who kept in a shocked noise and made a note to touch base with Dylan after the game, we were on to "transform" with no discernable pause in the action. I mean, the game has to stay moving after all!
Surprisingly, this was actually the second time that I've had to talk to a student about not randomly blurting out the word "tampon."