alas there is nothing in this world as terrifying annoying and downright disturbing to my children and it seems all gifted children with whom I attempt to create words sentences paragraphs and in turn full essays than the art or the lesson or the torture that is punctuation and convention
“You use it wrong all the time!” My daughter is quick to point out now that she feels somewhat secure in her punctuatorious footing (it is not a word… but it should be).
That’s certainly true, Punctuatorious Daughter of Mine, I often throw (as I have now) all punctuation into the proverbial trash bin in exchange for ellipses and commas and odd placement and long, intentional lists and flow and meaning and fun. And, once she has a Master’s Degree in English she can do the same thing.
“You are not to call it poetic diction or creative parallel language until you can call it that without Google, m’dear.”
“Ugh,” she replies, “that is SOOO boring!”
“No, sweetheart, that is so boring. You can capitalize the word so in emails to me, but Oxford denounces it in proper writing.”
Seriously, now, why is it SOOO unbelievably difficult to teach punctuation and its uses to children whose writing and understanding of writing has far surpassed their ability to apply conventions and punctuation?
I asked myself this question today. I was handed punctuation bingo. It seemed easy… enough.
After a few hours in the classroom (where I built an elaborate shrine in my head to my youngest daughter’s teacher who literally wrangled spring-fevered clothed human-cats into small groups of actual functioning and growing entities), I have narrowed it down to five reasons my gifted children hate all things “practice, action, or system of inserting points or other small marks into texts, in order to aid interpretation, (divide) into sentences, clauses, etc., by means of such marks” (My Pal, Oxford English Dictionary, which recently added Shoop). Here it is:
- The need to edit punctuation implies imperfection.
- The need to edit at ALL implies imperfection.
- The need for perfection implies imperfection.
- I can’t remember number four.
- Please see numbers 1 through 3.
The children, my own included, from youngest to high school, all seem to think of editing and punctuation as some sort of slight against their writing, themselves, their abilities, and their minds. Further, the act of putting proper conventions in while they are writing seems to slow them down so much so to make them believe their content is flawed.
It’s as if little dragons live in semicolons and single-unit modifiers are bullies. What to do? What to do?
First, place a fresh piece of fruit and some sandalwood incense at the altar for your child’s teacher. That helps. Next, see the above list and try to understand how bad it feels to write when you feel your punctuation is all wrong. I think I might dive into that a little more this month. And finally, it’s okay.
Look, writing is hard for everyone. Could you sit down and get it all out, empty your minds, fill the page, and say what you want to say, all while following every convention you know? Of course not. (Fragment). Convention and punctuation is like the math of the English world and it has a place a proper place in your child’s writing your child’s learning and your child’s project but not in your child’s mind. (Run On).
Run on. Run on. Run on and on and on and on
the next time my child gets stuck on writing and punctuation and convention I’m going to have him or her sit down and write without any altogether and see what happens crazy right It might look crazy on the paper to see no pauses and places to rest but it’s so much more fun and besides didn’t you pause on your own in my first paragraph even though I didn’t tell you to