Although I rarely missed a day of class when I was in grade school, I must have been out sick the day Mr. Jenkins introduced the fourth grade class to possessives. Singular possessives? Plural possessives? Its or It’s? It was all a mystery to me. For years I muddled along the best I could, throwing in apostrophes willy-nilly hoping no one would notice they were in the wrong place. I spent large amounts of time constructing sentences that avoided the use of possessives. For example, the “children’s toys” could be rendered the “toys with which children play”. “We are going shopping for the girls’ dresses” became “Naomi, Joanna, and Rachael all need a dress, so we are going shopping.”
Commas also presented difficulties. The liberal use of commas created choppy thoughts, while their omission encouraged the dreaded “run on” sentence. Prior to the use of computers I tried to hide my lack of understanding by using a scribble at the end of the offending word or sentence. The hope was that the grammatical error would be overshadowed by the poor penmanship. Of course, with the advent of computers I could no longer hide behind scribbles. What was I to do?
The answer came from an unexpected source. A source of genuine joy as well as gnashing-of-the-teeth anger. What could possibly produce such diverse emotions? My wonderful, delightful children. And they were never more delightful than during the years we spent homeschooling. We spent 15 years baking chocolate chip cookies in order to better understand fractions, snuggled together for hours on a winter’s day reading the Chronicles of Narnia (Just one more chapter, plleeaasseeee……), did school for a week in a Tuareg tent constructed in our living room, and occasionally pulled out pencils and paper to work on writing skills.
You can only imagine my delight when I first stumbled across a home school writing curriculum that began to unveil the mysteries of punctuation, prepositions, and possessives. (And alliteration.) I was thrilled to finally have a tentative grasp on these previously elusive topics. I was determined that my children would conquer the use of apostrophes and commas; college term papers would not be their sword of Damocles!
It was smooth sailing through the Winston Grammar program and we all finished with a better understanding of the English language. But more than that, I was infused with a desire to put my thoughts on paper. I often found myself “writing” in my head. Stories about people I encounter, essays on a variety of subjects, playing with interesting words.
This past year one of my kids encouraged me to start a blog. Initially I was reluctant, but eventually decided that it would be a perfect outlet for my mental compositions.
I do not pretend to be a ‘writer’. Although spelling errors are rare with the use of Spellcheck, I still make grammatical errors, and don’t use words with the delicious and careful phrasing of my favorite author, Jane Austen. Nonetheless, I am pleased that I am starting this blog and hope you will visit again.
Have a blessed New Year!