It Seems To Me: A new word gives a new worldview

"Inter-reliability." Now there's a concept! As soon as she spoke, my eyes opened wide

Eleanor Deckert

I learned a new word. More specifically: I was present when a new word was invented!

Recently I spent several days with a friend’s family. Coaching homework is one thing I enjoy. With over 15 years experience as a homeschooler, I know a little about what challenges and frustrations can be expected while attempting unfamiliar tasks and also the sweetness of the benefits that are just around the corner after mastering specific skills.

And one more thing: I have a knack to zero in on that spot where a challenge is neither too hard nor too easy.

So, I brought 50 flashcards with those three-letter words that follow the rules of phonics: cat, sat, fat, pat, mat, mop, hop, top, stop.

The younger child was in his element. It was easy enough to attempt but hard enough to feel that sense of satisfaction.

The older child (who could read faster than I could flip the cards) wanted something a little harder. She dictated words she wanted to read while I wrote them on the back of the deck. Tomorrow, because, chocolate, remember. We were building a nice collection.

Meanwhile, this family has been focused on another project that now entered her list of words. They have been looking closely at a list of “virtues.” What does this mean? What would life in our family be like without it? If everyone consciously practised it? So her list of flashcard words grew: honesty, patience, flexibility, gentleness.

Then, all-in-a-flash, the new word arrived. A virtue we all need to practise and deliberately focus on that would make the family and our world a better place to be.


Now there’s a concept!

As soon as she spoke, my eyes opened wide and met her gaze. I could see the web she lives in – her siblings and parents, her grandparents and faith-family, teachers and bus drivers, coaches and neighbours. She relies on these people, yet others rely on her.

With that one word she knew that she is part of a web, and each of the people in the web have their own network of people they can rely on and who rely on them.


“Inter-reliability.” Like a map, I instantly had a new worldview. Who relies on me? Who do I rely on? How wondrous that we are all so intricately connected through trust and dependability.