Fruits of Labors
As parents, we occasionally have brief moments of clarity – where the enormity of our parental duty becomes overwhelmingly obvious. These moments contrast the complexity and size of the rest of the world with our ever-shrinking influence on our children. In some of those moments, our children shock us with how seemingly little they have retained from hours of teaching and guidance. But other times, they amaze us with independent, unsolicited feats of insight, thereby showing us that they do listen and learn when we speak.
I had just such a moment earlier this week. My mother brought us up to be particularly mindful of grammar, spelling, and word choice. For that reason, I have also tried to train Avey in the careful use of words. For example, I’ll often tease her when she says something that could be misinterpreted by acting as if I misunderstand.
Finally, I witnessed the fruits of my labors this week. Avey has a chart from her dentist with rows of boxes that she can mark after brushing her teeth. Below the chart, the instructions state, “Check each box after brushing teeth.” Avey was brushing her teeth one day, reading the chart, when she commented to Kira, “Mom, I think a kid could think that means they could brush their teeth just once, and then check off all of the boxes. I think it should say, ‘Check the next box after brushing teeth.'”
When Kira told me about it that night, I had never been prouder of Avey. Finally, I found some evidence that she will be a distinguished member of the Grammar Police in the near future, just as her father. She will spend countless hours biting her tongue while her friends and teachers misplace modifiers, incorrectly conjugate pronouns after prepositions, and throw reflexives about willy-nilly. I must emphasize to her that it is not an easy burden to bear. It has driven more than a few to madness, what with the current state our nation’s schools, and the constant damage to the language that texting causes.
But she can hopefully take comfort in the fact that at least most of her college professors, and perhaps a few of her friends and fans, will appreciate her reverence with and mastery of our language.
Or if nothing else, at least she won’t drive her father crazy.