Never Call Your Kid Brother a Dummy

Mom and Dad’s Beloved Vase: Broken, Smashed, Gone (Photo:

TINA and Timmy are twins. They are both ten. Tina is older by twenty-two minutes, and tends to have the upper hand when it comes to bullying her brother. When it comes to spelling, Tina also has the upper hand. She can spell big and complex words, like “benevolent” and “malevolent.” Even “disenfranchise” is a piece of cake. It doesn’t help that Timmy is not particularly gifted at spelling.

One time, he spelled “minutes” like “minuits,” and “dishonest” like “disonest.” Another time, he wrote a composition about a bad guy, a rogue, but he kept spelling the word as “rouge.” It was his great misfortune that his sister chanced upon this particular essay. As she was reading it, she couldn’t help shaking her head with a know-it-all look and a sneer of utter condescension.

“Oh my gosh!” she said. “You mean you don’t even know how to spell ‘rogue’? Are you dumb or what?”

Timmy got really mad and tried to snatch his essay back, but she whipped it behind her back and hummed the tune that always got him worked up: Timmy is a dummy! Timmy is a dummy! Presently, he lunged right at her.

“Catch me if you can!” she sneered, sticking her tongue out and drawing her eyes towards the center so that she looked like a freak rather than a sane and sensible sister, a sweet and sensitive one.

Then she sent him on a mad chase for his “rouge” script, making him go round and round and round the living room. Timmy could feel his ears getting hot and his palms getting sweaty. At one point, he even clenched his fist in a shivering fit when the crazy merry-go-round came to a screeching halt.

“Oh!” Tina said, pausing and panting away right in front of the glass display cabinet. “You can’t spell ‘vase’ as well, come to think of it.”

She reached for the white celadon vase Mommy and Daddy had bought from Seoul, then held it up like a trophy.

“Now listen, Timmy the Dummy! This is spelled V-A-S-E, you get it, not V-A-C-E,” she said, articulating the word with that same idiotic eyes-looking-at-the-tip-of-the-nose gaze. She had to rub it in too by stretching the vowel.

Timmy was livid. He charged forward, but Tina didn’t dodge in time. She tipped over sideways and the vase slipped right out of her grip with a nasty crash. Call it smithereens, if you will—sad, sorrowful smithereens! But, of course, it was sad and sorrowful.

Daddy scolded them big time, like he had never done before.

(447 words)


Edith Lee, Primary Four
April 2017

For more essays by Edith, visit Edith Writes.

This essay was written in response to three boxed pictures:

  • a boy and a girl are playing chase at home
  • a vase is smashed, scattered on the floor, leaving them utterly distressed
  • their father gives them an earful 

1 thought on “Never Call Your Kid Brother a Dummy

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