Thursday, August 14, 2008

What have I done?

I am not great at very much. I'm a pretty average person in most respects. I'm a pretty decent wife, good mom, pretty good housekeeper, and probably a better-than-average cook.

But if there's one thing I can do well, it's teach my kids English. I've been a bit of a pedant for a long time, thanks to my own dear mother, who was also a teacher of all things English, and is still very fussy about correct grammar.

When Leah was about nine years old, we were at a Navy retirement ceremony for a friend of ours and the story called, "I Have the Watch" was read. In it, there's a line that goes, "and lay about smartly." When that part was read aloud, she leaned over to me and whispered, "Lie."

At the tender age of nine she knew that the verb lay had to have a direct object, and that what the author really meant was "lie about smartly."

And I found Elijah not long ago reading the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves and laughing out loud at how removing a comma can change the entire meaning of a sentence.

So imagine my delight yesterday when I received a birthday card from my oldest daughter, Deb, now married and living far away. The front reads:

I know what you'd like on your birthday - T. L. C.

Then the inside says:

Ten Less Candles!
Only she had crossed out the "less" and written "fewer."

I love that child!

Ben read the card and said, "You've ruined our children." I think maybe I've made them into carbon-copy pedants, just like me.

But as my great-grandmother used to say, "It's better than hanging over a bar."

Be thankful ~


1 comment:

Jan/ said...

Sorry, but lay is the correct word in that case--as in the following:
to lay about smartly, in the maritime sense is to turn about, to turn the ship, to turn oneself. I looked it up, because as an English teacher I am interested in odd, archaic, and restricted uses of words.