Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just in case you ever wondered what the Grammarphile was like when she was a wee tot...


Back in the 1980s I was a wee Grammarphile who was very into dreaming up stories about dinosaurs (my very favorite topic when I was young!), typing them on MAMA GRAMMARPHILE'S old typewriter, and then illustrating the stories. This was when I was, like, 4 years old. Seriously. Like before I even started going to school.

But this isn't exactly a story about that. This is a story about what happened with this young Grammarphile when she started attending kindergarten. I was living in New Jersey at the time and attending kindergarten at a public school. I was bored there. Very, very bored. See, the thing is, I could already read and write just fine for a kindergartener. Better than fine, in fact. Since I always finished my boring little lessons early, I often found myself with nothing to do in the classroom. So I did what any young Grammarphile-type would do: I wrote. But here's the catch: I didn't write on paper. I wrote on desks. And the floor. With crayons. And I wrote perfectly-spelled, grammatically correct things, like full sentences and stuff. (Come on, does this really surprise you a whole lot?)

Needless to say, the teacher hated me. I was a precocious little pain in the ass. When my parents found out that their spawn was a grammatically proficient graffiti artist, they wisely pulled me out of that kindergarten class and sent me to a private school that was way less boring for me. (Sidenote: When I arrived at the private school, they tested my reading level, and I tested on a sixth-grade level. No fucking wonder I was bored in public school kindergarten.)

Here's my point. In goddamn kindergarten I could write better than certain elementary school teachers (who are adults, mind you) can currently write, as evidenced by the above letter. Even as a wee Grammarphile, I knew that Super Bowl was two words, knew the difference between they're/their/there and your/you're, would have remembered to capitalize my days of the week, and for god's sake, you would NEVER have caught me leaving that uber-essential "to be" out of a phrase like "need to be changed" ("need changed"? Eeeeeek!).

I'm sure these teachers are nice ladies, but they should really be embarrassed of themselves for their lack of proper grammar and spelling skills. (Ironically, they can only be embarrassed if they're aware they're doing something wrong, and I highly doubt they have any clue how horrendous their writing is. Sigh.)

Gracias to LIZ from Pennsyltucky for sending in this letter! :)

8 comments:

Mike Spoodles said...

A sixth-grade reading level? Now you're just showing off, lady!

Joe said...

Wow. You were quite the accomplished little tot, weren't you?

I also found the phrasing of "On thursday [sic] we are asking..." to be a little off. Are they really waiting until Thursday to ask the children to wear team colors for Thursday? And I thought I was a procrastinator!

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

Yeah, yeah, maybe I *am* showing off just a little, but come on--I deserve braggin' rights for that story, don't I? :) I mean, who else has a "when I was young"-type story that can compare to that one?

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

I was a very odd child, I think. :) But even back then I managed to cause mischief with my good grammar...some things never change!

Yeah, you're right, that phrasing is a little strange. Even stranger is the fact that this letter refers to the kids wearing their favorite Super Bowl team colors, which is ironic because BOTH team that were in the Super Bowl that year (Patriots, Giants) essentially have the SAME colors. So I'm guessing the Giants fans showed up to school looking pretty damn similar to the Patriots fans, and vice versa...

Jane said...

When my kid was about to start kindergarten, he was reading fluently. At pre-kindergarten roundup night, I made the mistake of asking one of his prospective teachers, who did not appear to be old enough to drive, how she might make allowances for this, considering that her year-long curriculum centered on mastery of The Letter People. "Oh, goody," she enthused. "He can help me teach the other kids." (Oh, goody, I thought, that oughtta make him the most popular kid in class.) Judging by the examples of student writing we could see displayed around the school, "invented spelling" was the pedagogic philosophy du jour, so I asked another teacher when, exactly, they taught the kids how to spell the right way, and she said, "Oh, they usually figure it out themselves by fifth grade." We enrolled our son in private school the next day. Did I mention this took place in Pennsylvania?

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

Jane, I honestly don't know whether to laugh my ass off at your story or be completely horrified. I think I'll do a little of both. (Just out of curiosity, is this eastern or western PA you're taking about here?)

Jane said...

Thanks! It was central PA, near Harrisburg, in a county which has more white-tailed deer than people. (True!)

THE GRAMMARPHILE said...

Haha...Jane, I totally understand what you're saying. I used to work in that area...I was an on-air personality in Franklin County, and I worked other radio jobs in Dauphin County. That area can be downright scary...and *uneducated*...