Friday, June 14, 2013

Grammar nazi no more.

It's been said that I was reading books when I was 4.  I was the eldest of three girls, and loved to read, I loved words, spelling, English. I loved comprehension exercises. I loved reading the dictionary and finding new, cool words. I started school at 4 and 9 months and I loved the work....even if I was terrified of the kids.

Some of my favourite words are "nebulous", "ephemeral", "zeitgeist","supercilious" and "cathartic".  When I was 12, we moved to a much smaller town, and I struggled to fit in.  I didn't really enjoy puberty and resented having to try to fit in again, so I escaped to a world of books and language and daydreams.

I might not have been the prettiest girl, I might not have been popular, I might have been terrified of boys, but by heck, could I spell. I loved to punctuate, and considered a sign with a misused possessive apostrophe an abomination. I considered a boycott of the local shop that advertised "Pizza's", or "Video's".

No, no, no. You're wrong. And I can hide in my ivory tower of correctness and judge you. I can make it be about the words, and use them to make me more and you less.  I judge you when you use poor grammar. I can actually remember just about having a panic attack if I ever sent out  an email that was incorrect.  It was a lofty standard to live up, and judgement breeds fear.  I was always looking for ways to prove that you were wrong and I was right.  

I didn't think I'd ever be able to consider someone who couldn't spell or punctuate a friend or boyfriend. How shallow and misguided I was.

I met my husband, who is smart, funny, honest and loving.  And you know what? He is much more of a do-er than a writer.  And I love the heck out of him. 

However, I didn't really begin to see the error of my ways until my beautiful, beautiful, amazing son Alex started school.  In the middle of his first year at school, his caring teacher alerted us to some potential problems with his learning.  We needed to help him more and we had his learning assessed.  I'm not going to go into too much detail, because that is Alex's story to tell, not mine - but the upshot of it was, that he will have to work a lot harder to have a level of learning that some kids find second nature.  The reading and learning that I found so easy, he will probably always struggle with.  And at first, I took that hard.  I didn't want my boy to struggle, I wanted him to find life easy... but I quickly realised that my job as a parent is not to wrap him in cotton wool and protect him from circumstances...but to build in him resilience and the ability to face tough things piece by piece, and without running from challenges.

Sure, I may have found learning easy, but there are many life skills that I struggle with. Seeing Alex learn, and the hard work that he puts in to every concept that he learns, makes me realise that this is just the way his brain works.  Accepting him for who he is and how he learns has been paramount to helping him.  I can't make him a different child any more than he can make me a different mum.  And I wouldn't want to make him different to the beautiful boy that he is.  The strength and resilience that he has shown in the past eighteen months make me realise that he is building character, and that triumph over his circumstances has made him grow a lot more than shielding him from troubles ever would.

So, if someone misspells a word or uses grammar incorrectly, I try not to judge them. We all have different talents and abilities, and for some, language comes easier than others. Do I judge you when you use poor grammar? No.  I celebrate that you are using language, I try to accept you and I hope you will do the same for me.  These days, I see that we are all a work in better than, no less than.  On a good day, I try not to judge at all.

Deb :)

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