Sunday, March 14, 2010


I was in the Think Tank, not really looking for inspiration for my daily blog, but found some anyway. I really love that when it happens. I do believe I mentioned my falling off the curb a week ago. Yeah, I am just that coordinated. Well, I was gingerly cleaning my knee, because I still have the wounds, when my mind drifted to that summer I sold books door-to-door in Colorado. When I first opened my facebook account, and was attempting what I called "Real-Time Updates," I did devote some time to that summer. However, the longer I pondered it, the more I realized that there was a wealth of material there. Besides, my readership had grown and who remembered, other than me and my mother, what I had written a year ago anyway? Outstanding. I had an idea. Better yet, I had ideas (plural). Thank you skinned knee. I even found a reason to be thankful for twenty years of clumsiness. How about that?

It didn't take long for my mind to wander to the books themselves. The books were intended to be a secondary source to what kids were learning at school. It was at this time that "new math" was being taught. The very words were enough to make parents tremble. What was wrong with old math? I understood their pain. That's what I learned, too. How were they ever to help their child wade through the waters of "new math" if they didn't understand it? I didn't get it at the time, but these books weren't being sold to help the kids. They were for the parents.

That got me to thinking about subjects other than math, and possible reasons, other than my outstanding sales skills, that might have caused a parent to shell out their hard-earned dollars for these study guides. Being the fairly smart individual that I am, I deduced that they probably had a kid that wasn't doing so well at school. Ba da bing! Furthermore, they had looked over their kid's homework and tests and it looked like a like a foreign language, even though it wasn't. So, they were saying things to their kid like, "You better start paying better attention in school," and "These grades are unacceptable. What are you doing all day?" or "I am going to start grounding you if these grades don't start showing significant improvement," or, they bring on the bribe and offer money for A's.

I now have this mental picture of Kid failing English because he can't keep all of the rules straight. When do you use a comma, colon, semi colon, dash, and parenthesis? Contractions are also giving Kid grief. "I" before "e" except "c" should be easy, but it isn't. Kid keeps mixing up when to use there and their, as well as your and you're, and to and too; in fact pretty much all words that sound the same, but are spelled differently are problematic. That and which are consistently marked as incorrect on Kid's test sheet. Kid can't seem to understand the difference between an adjective and an adverb. Pronouns are regular troublemakers. Participial phrases are a complete mystery. Parent has to reread this one. What is a participial phrase? In fact, Parent doesn't understand why any of Kid's answers are wrong. Parent digs out guidebook because Parent is way too ashamed to ask to borrow Kid's textbook after giving Kid all that grief about Kid's grades. Parent stays up all night trying to understand Kid's schoolwork.

Next day Parent is exhausted. Parent remembers that Parent didn't understand this material very well when Parent took it in school. Parent barely passed this class. Parent got a lot of grief from own Parents. Parent understands contractions, adverbs, adjectives, the use of there and their, to and too, and commas better now. The rest is still a bit murky. Parent realizes that lots of memos and other documents have been sent out at work with glaring grammatical errors. That is humiliating. Parent is glad no one sent one back with a grade, and red pen marks notating the errors in detail. However, Parent is thinking about some strong words for Secretary. Nah. Secretary probably doesn't understand it either. Parent now has much more empathy for Kid, and feels remorse for some of the more unkind, and volatile things said about Kid's school work ethic. Parent realizes that confession is not an option, because than Kid would know that Parent put this information in Parent's short term memory, and Parent wants Kid to do things differently. Parent closes office door, digs out study guide, and goes back to "work." Parent is determined to help Kid get through this grammatical minefield.

Now, I can't say for sure that actually happened. I just like to believe that I made a huge difference in the way a Parent saw their Kid, and it changed their lives for the better. And it all happened because I had the courage to knock on a stranger's door.


  1. Just don't grade my comments. Now I'm self-conscious...

  2. This post was GREAT, my best friend is a teacher and she will get a kick out of it!

  3. Sharon, you are too funny. I am happy to get comments. Believe me. I am not doing any grading!

  4. Hello again! Thanks ever so much for the award. :o) I'm having a crazy-busy day today, but I'll try to get back later to post and catch up and comment on blogs. :o)

    Thanks for the link to the online Lost series archive. I don't think I'll have time to watch online, but I may see about getting a set of DVDs at some point. :o) Personal recommendation was how I got to see the (UK version of) Life on Mars, a show I absolutely LOVED!

    Bye for now and thanks again

    Patsy :o)


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