Updated: Aug 10, 2022
He was five years old with autism and a language impairment... and had a love for learning new, and BIG words. I had a fire extinguisher in my classroom (as most classrooms do), and he would slide into our classroom every morning on his knees right up to it, looking closely.
"Ms. DJ, what is this?!", he would exclaim with great enthusiasm and a wiggle of his tiny hands. "That's a fire extinguisher. It helps to put out fires.", I replied.
This interaction between us and the fire extinguisher continued for weeks. Until...
He walked in, found the fire extinguisher (like every other day), wiggled his fingers and stated excitedly, "Ms. DJ. This is an exquitenger!".
Exquitenger. He was so excited that he knew what it was (I was excited that he was attempting new language) that we had our own little celebration of success right there in front of the "exquitenger".
Throughout his kindergarten year, his vocabulary expanded and expanded. With new common words, multisyllabic words, and all of the random mispronunciations that go with learning, he grew into a social, word-loving kiddo.
He went on to first grade in an inclusion setting and blossomed. He became a lover of reading, science, and silliness.
And yes, exquitenger is not a word, but for me and my memory of this kiddo, that silly word represents so much. Excitement. Enthusiasm. Patience. And a love of learning that is honest and true.