Although I speak English, went to English speaking schools and fulfilled their curriculum requirements, I don’t recall ever being taught English grammar formally. [translation = this is probably why I have such trouble with foreign languages] As luck would have it, I am expanding my knowledge of English grammar at my current advanced age of 46. I can manage noun, verb and adjective on a good day, but anything more than that is a bit hit and miss. I have read "Eats Shoots and Leaves," in recent years, but that was more for the purpose of entertainment rather than education. 'Between You and I' gives me a "ghost" of a chance, but on the whole I have other more pressing matters to tie up my brain with.
Strangely American schools teach English Grammar. [translation = as does "TEACCH"] This is proving more than a challenge to someone with such a tiny brain as myself. [translation = can’t teach an old dog new tricks] I struggle with third grade homework. [translation = and second and first grades too] More often than not, I am completely flummoxed by the old Kindergarten worksheets too. The sheet of paper has twelve little pictures for you to identify, but because it is in American English rather than English English, I am a hindrance rather than a help.
We sit at the dining room table fighting with homework. [translation = times three, although my maths skills are similarly challenged] They are simple line drawings, not that I think that coloured pictures would necessarily help. Even after all this time, whereby each of my children progresses through the school system, I still have a 33% failure rate in identifying these little pictures. I know that he can complete the whole thing in under a minute, but instead he prefers to paw the paper and drag out the whole exercise for the best part of an hour.
“It is a compound word?”
“Is what a compound word?”
“Er, no that’s two words, not a compound word. Seashell, sea and shell stuck together would be a compound word, or rather, is a compound word.”
“Anyway, stop messing around, lets get this work sheet done.”
“I can have a not compound word now?”
“How do you mean?”
“Can I have my chocolate pudding now which is not a compound word?”
“You can have your chocolate pudding after you’ve finished your worksheet.” He sighs and drapes himself over the table.
“Look at the sheet lovey. Ooops you’re drooling. Come along. Look at the picture.”
He looks and wipes and sighs. I nudge. “It’s a bed dear. B E D, bed. Can you write it on the little line underneath?”
“It not bed.”
“It is. Look! Look at the picture dear.”
“Just three letters. You can do it.”
My daughter leans over, “he’s right.”
“What do you mean he’s right?”
“He’s correct then. He’s right and you’re wrong.”
“How else are you supposed to spell bed may I ask?”
“C O T.”
“O.k. lets move onto the next one then.”
We trudge through the worksheet. [translation = amid much parental pain]
“What is this a picture of dear?” Now I really know the answer, but he has to find it for himself.
“Come on luvvy, it begins with a ‘c’”
“I know dat.”
“Good, so why don’t you just write it down here, on this little line.”
“Only three little letters?”
“Not three, four.”
“It’s three dear, you’re already written it once.”
“NOT THREE, FOUR!” he bellows.
“Cot dear, just three letters.”
“NOT COT!” His sister leans over, “he’s right.”
“What do you mean he’s right?”
“He’s correct then. He’s right and you’re wrong.”
“How else are you supposed to spell cot may I ask?”
“C R I B.”
He finishes up writing out the four letter word. [translation = I swallow all of my own four letter words]
“Now I can be having my chocolate pudding that is not a compound word?”
“Yes dear, of course. Well done for finishing.”
“You are sure?”
“Er…yes, of course I’m sure. I mean, what am I sure of?”
“You are sure that chocolate pudding is not dah compound word?”
“Yes, I’m sure. It’s two separate words and they’re not stuck together.”
He sighs with an air of melancholia. The English language, American or English is curse to one and all.
“O.k……… how about.......chocpud, it is a compound word?”
“It is now.”
I am beginning to appreciate that this isn't just a pond issue. [translation = US v. UK] but also a Canadian v US division. [translation = aren't they more or less the same?] If you like to cook, enjoy a challenge and are not following a gluten free diet, then you might enjoy this "recipe." I might enjoy it too when I can work out which continent I am cooking on?
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Of course there are several, but we’ll start with an important one, namely shoes. All shoes should be comfortable, that should be part of the definition of a shoe. If a shoe fails to be comfortable it instantaneously transforms itself into another category entirely, namely a means of torture. Additionally, the ideal shoe should be red, in fact I think it should be compulsory that all shoes are red. I would sacrifice, that is to say ‘trade,’ red for comfortable. [translation = beware of women in comfortable shoes]
I expect it would surprise you to learn that my first ever pair of shoes were red? [translation = the newly hatched duckling fixates on the first visible object] I of course, am in a position of power, since I have the purse, which contains the means to acquire the shoes. [translation = greenbacks] I wield my consumer power, for my children and their footwear too, or I would do, if anyone would honour me with the chance to put shoe leather close to the soles of their feet. [translation = or it’s synthetic equivalents]
Feet have many different qualities, few of which are truly appreciated. Until this current crop of children, I was unaware that feet have rights. [translation = we are in America afterall] Around these parts, feet have the right to be unfettered and free to pursue happiness. As with all things American, the feet have to learn that with rights, come responsibilities. The feet have the responsibility to be protected from themselves and the many textures of the world that are out to get them. [translation = do them damage]
As with most things in life, it’s a trade off. The trouble with the trade off, is that no-one can decide how much to trade. [translation = the barter system]
Essentially the whole matter is a dichotomy without resolve – my feet must be free, my feet need armour. How does one resolve such internal conflict?
That’s right! Very noisily.
Now that my children have advanced up the fine motor skills learning curve, to be able to deal with the vexatious issue of Velcro [translation = tactile defensiveness and noise abatement society, due to ripping sounds] they are able to put their own shoes on by themselves. Hallelujah! [translation = with prompting] Thank goodness for the end of the sock season.
It is a rare sight to witness a person in the midst of this quandary. [translation = is it?] The shoes are on. The shoes fly across the room. They are retrieved and screamed at, given a few slaps to teach them a lesson, then they’re on again, and then they’re in orbit. It would, of course, be very unkind to laugh at such a person. [translation = I recommend duct tape] If two people are in the middle of the same quandary, at the same time, it is probably better to leave the room and compose yourself.
On your return, it would be a good idea to remind your children of the many things that you have said many times before. Commiserate with your children. [translation = validate their dilemma] Concur with the willful conspiracy of shoes. Use all the tried, trusted and familiar phrases that you have been using for as many years as you have been using them.
Ideally, modeling the correct behaviour can be very effective. You probably realize that you are in a groove and might wish to add a dash of something new. [translation= take care, this doesn’t work if you do it too often] Modeling or copying, as best you can, their behaviour, can sometimes be more effective still. [translation = take care, you don’t want to come across as mocking or taunting them, timing is crucial]
Obtain your own shoes from the garage and join in the shoe fest. Berate your shoes before your children. For some reason, biting your shoes has a particularly positive effect. Worry your shoes and shout at them a lot. Cast them aside, being sure not to knock out any small people with your bad aim. [translation = and boat sized shoes]
If you’re lucky, someone, maybe two people will each bring you a shoe and help you. When you hear little voices parrot back your own words, take care to swallow hard.
If you're looking for some helpful advice on some of the many different therapies available for someone you know, here are a few from my good "pal," because we are all trolling through a similar learning curve.