Are you serious?

This s-word keeps resurfacing in my life with kids, and I'm curious about why. I have one hypothesis and would love to hear from you what you think! Here are the three s-word stories.

Serious story #1
"Our teacher is serious," Vanna whispers to the teaching assistant who's waiting to take them to lunch. Vanna is learning English so I'm not sure exactly what she thinks I mean when I gather the first graders on the rug to review their responsibilities during our reading/writing workshop period. Our student teacher had ended her time with us the Friday before, and I was seriously recalibrating our daily 100-minute work period.

(There's a deep structure and predictability to workshop teaching that might escape recognition for those more accustomed to teacher-directed curriculum. The student teacher was able to depend on the deep structure I had created with the kids in the fall, which is different that creating it oneself, and it had gone a little off track.)

Serious story #2
"Kathy, is that the Serious Tower? Can we take the elevator?" Imagine my laugh! At 108 stories and taller than the World Trade Center, the Sears Tower is serious enough! Eight-year-old T and I are in Chicago for the day and the Sears Tower is one of our destinations. Of course an 8 year old wouldn't connect Sears with a tall building, even if she did recognize it as a store in her community. (Official name change to Willis Tower as of 7.16.09.)

Serious story #3
"Hey, are you serious?" three-year-old Morgan yells to the landscape gardeners working next door. This got a chuckle out of all of us, and several of the guys look up to our deck. "Yeah, we're serious." And you know three year olds: "What are you doing?" "How come?" And again, "But are you serious?" It wasn't long before they stayed focused on their work and seriously ignored him!

Why "serious"?
I've spent time with many kids over many years, and their use of serious has singularly caught my attention. For my part, I'm loving how the sound of the word slides out of my mouth, and kids could love that, too. And I'm guessing that most of us slow down and slightly exaggerate our enunciation of it when we use it with kids, and it seriously sticks with them! What do you think?