Example Rules

Al Sharpton
Al Sharpton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was remembering one of my first triumphs at school. It was an aptitude test on English grammar. In second grade, we were asked to choose the correct form of a word to plug into a sentence. Since we had no formal grammatical training before the test, I was very pleased to “ace” it.
Why did I have those skills at age eight? Simply because proper grammar was spoken in my home.
The English language has rules… not the kind meant to restrict our behavior, but those which apply in order to keep us on “the same page” and in the “same game”.
When I consider the modern distaste for rules, in general, and the emphasis on diversity, I realize many young parents are throwing an obstacle into their children’s education (and success) when they refuse to use proper grammar.
I understand that bilingual households are at a disadvantage automatically. All the more reason, in my opinion, for parents to school themselves in proper English.
Language has little to do with culture, so the clinging to slang and the blocking of the kids’ understanding of the rules of English grammar in the home, make no sense.
Al Sharpton is an intelligent man…Yet, he talks in a “street” dialect that, I assume, is an attempt to be “common” and endearing to the African American community. He “ain’t” helping anyone by confusing folks about English enunciation and grammar. Especially those people who have never lived in an environment where the rules of English were followed. Leading by example would be more helpful and honorable, in my opinion. Breaking other rules may gain a person attention and bravado but the rules of English language, once ignored, are terribly difficult to reclaim.
So, when parents consider helping their children’s efforts for a good education, the most important edge they can offer is the example of good grammar spoken at home.

Good Grammar

Good grammar never ends…

Use among when you say friends.

Say between when there are two.

Don’t say me and you.

Make a list, you’re at the end.

Unthaw  means frozen,  friend.

Ain’t  is not a word.

You don’t want to be absurd.

Less is an amount.

Use fewer when you count.

You are much too smart

To let speech fall apart.

There are rules in every game.

Good grammar needs the same.

Insides Out

You can’t listen without your ears ON.

The switch is under your chin.

It closes your mouth and opens your mind

And lets all the smarts come right in.

You can’t see if your eyes are closed.

I know, I tried this before.

There’s more to seeing than “meets the eye”

So look ’till those peepers are sore!

Your lips may move. Your breath comes out.

Talking is much more than sound.

Try not to mumble and wait for your turn

Or your thoughts may go “splat” on the ground.

Turn on those ears and open your eyes

And speak up but never shout.

 The whole you is awesome and deserves to be shared

Do let all your insides come out!

Survivors’ Code

To add to my ongoing discussion of rule breaking, I thought I’d make another point. This blog is intended to be a record of thoughts preserved for my granddaughter. I feel the need to make it perfectly clear that occasional rule breaking may be necessary but habitual rule breaking is not what I recommend.

It has been studied that women are more resistant to the breaking of rules. The reason for this would require another post. An example of this follows:

You are carrying a tray of food to your seat in a food court. Someone snatches a valuable from you and runs. There is only a moment to catch them and recover your possession.

  • Women are much more apt to waste time looking for a place to set their tray.
  • Men will more often drop the tray and grab the thief.

Assuming that the item was more valuable than the risk  of injury needed to recover it, these results are startling.

I have always feared that the “good girl” might be her own enemy in a crisis. I feel the need to “try on” options before I am confronted with an emergency.

My mother and father were driving home in separate cars. They got into a playful game of “beat you there”. Upon reaching an island in the road, Dad swerved on the opposite side and took the lead. Mom was horrified. I witnessed it and realized that Dad had broken a traffic rule BUT there was a clear view and no danger of a collision. The worst that would have happened was a ticket for this unlawful maneuver. I stored that away. It had never occurred to me that traffic laws COULD be broken without danger.

A few years ago my alternator was failing and my car was running out of “juice”. I had to get home quickly or would be stranded with towing etc. There was no way I could wait for a stoplight. The lesson of the afore-mentioned traffic infraction came to mind and I exited an “enter only” area which was CLEARLY unused. This saved me a towing charge AND being stranded in the center of the highway which, in itself, may have been more dangerous.

One more example of personal safety versus the law. I may have mentioned this one before but it fits here nicely.

I was apt to go hunting and be alone in the woods from time to time. Most hunters are men. Most men can overpower most women. I told my husband that I was safe because I had a gun in hand. His answer has stuck with me as another lesson. “A gun is no good if you are unwilling to point it at someone and unable to shoot it at someone.” That was absolutely true…he knew me well enough to remind me to practice the worst case scenario before hand.

We all need to practice worst case scenarios or be caught off guard by an emergency. We need to realize that rules sometimes need to be broken to survive.

Who Rules?

I don’t do well with rules. Yes, they are quite necessary but so awfully confining.

Remember doing penmanship in school?

Mimicking retraces and loops in order to write cursive in a manner we could all comprehend. Besides my mother, I don’t know anyone who held on to that wealth after school years.

Remember early forms of art class?

“Hold your paper the long way…”,  “Color lightly…”, “Skies are supposed to be blue…”.  The biggest insult was getting to 8th grade and being introduced to the Impressionists! REALLY? So all that art stuff was helping us how?

Then the most insulting thing ever done to kids was introducing negative numbers after YEARS developing a “number order” picture in our heads!

I didn’t know where to fit them into my “mind’s eye”. A very tragic and unsettling event for me. The only thing that made any sense was the “two negatives make a positive” rule. I was able to remember this by saying ,”I’m not untying my shoe.”  Still, I couldn’t fully understand why the phrase meant that I was therefore tying my shoe. Seemed to me, I didn’t need to DO anything.

Don’t even get me started on rules of English and spelling! I before E except after C…weird!

You want to talk Gravity? THAT was supposed to be the biggest most unbending rule. In fact, it is a LAW! Ahhhhh!

It wasn’t long after this, that I learned that you could swing a pail of milk over your head using centrifugal force! The milk does not abide by that law, in that case? I am SO confused…Mom told me that I must not break a law!

As for me, I’m telling the kids like it IS…

Roll up your sleeves and hold the darn paper any way that you want and do not forget to leave cookies out for Santa this year.