Recently, my husband and I have allowed our teenage daughter to open a Facebook account. We are very protective parents. When she is allowed on the Internet to play on Facebook, we monitor her activity with our smart phones. We have certain rules for whom she may add as friends, and we speak to her about manners when communicating with people online.
There is one item I just didn't think I needed to instruct her with, and that was grammar and punctuation. Let me say first, that I am not an expert on the subject, and I make mistakes from time to time. Honest mistakes and even careless mistakes I understand. However, I have discovered a truth which makes my skin crawl. My daughter and sometimes even my husband make grammar and punctuation mistakes on purpose! At first, I thought it was merely to irritate me. I'm kinda an obsessive-compulsive person anyways, so to annoy me is great fun for them.
But this is what I've noticed. I check my daughter's status bar and see misspelled words. I speak to her about using a dictionary, so she will know that she wants to tell her entire friend list that she is watching the Superbowl and not the Superball. At the very least, ask me to spell it. She says to me, "Mom, please don't critique my status bar. People know what I'm saying."
I then check my husband's status bar and am horrified. He doesn't use captital letters to begin a sentence. If that wasn't bad enough, I discovered he doesn't use punctuation. My eyes blink and a little nervous tick begins twitching in my cheek. I ask him about his status bars and he says, "Why should I use proper punctuation? No one else does on Facebook. We all know what we're trying to say."
Here in Texas, we have had an unusual amount of snow days. This type of forced vacation has been the perfect time to place a dent in my to-be-read-pile. One book stood out to me above the others, and it was a small, hardback book with the title, Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss. My family asked what I was reading, and I told them it was a book about punctuation. Their noses scruntched up, followed by a look which said, "Mom, you're an alien!"
I particulary enjoyed the book. I felt that I was in good company with the author, even though she knows considerably more about the subject than I. This book is not a text book with mind numbing information. Instead, it is a book about the history of punctuation and also how to use it correctly. I have had stumbling blocks about certain punctuations. For instance, why are exclamation marks so wrong? Why can't I add...elipsis whenever I want? I love...elipsis. What is the deal with periods inside the quotation marks and periods outside the quotation marks? Which one is right? Questions like these will keep me up at night. So, this is why not only did I read the book but learned from the book.
I even enjoyed the panda joke at the beginning of the book. I would relate it to you now, but I'd probably mess up the punch line. Please get the book and read it for yourself. You won't regret.
I will end my post with a crowning star moment from a conversation between me and my son yesterday.
"Mom, did you know the word eat can be a fun word?"
"How is that?"
"You can take the 'e' in eat and place it behind the 't' and the word becomes ate. Then you can take the letter 'a' and place it behind the letter 'e' and the word becomes tea. That's so cool!"
All is not lost. We should just keep teaching, training, and keeping our standards up.
P.S. While looking for an image to include with this post, I found a couple of links you might enjoy.
Lynne Truss website link: http://www.lynnetruss.com/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=8
Google link for worksheet which will help solidify the information in your brain:
If the above link doesn't work, search "eats, shoots and leaves" and locate the google link.
Happy writing, Y'all!!!