Cute “versing” Correct
“What’s a task?”
“A task is like a job.”
“Then why don’t you just say, ‘I have a job for you.'” <accompanied by a dramatic eyeroll>
(Because Mommy was trying to disguise work as something else that wouldn’t make you roll your eyes at me.)
Okay, I didn’t actually say that, but it’s one of the milder (and printable) inner mom-ologues I’ve had while talking with my kids. My real response was,
“Because it’s always good to know more words and more than one way to say something. Now come help me…”
That was my Sunday morning vocabulary lesson with my kids. As a former English teacher, I can’t help myself. I’ve always been a card-carrying member of the Grammar Police. It started as young as elementary school with me correcting my friends. (Yeah, sorry about that!) But there are an increasing number of instances where the English teacher in me should come out with sirens blaring. The thing is, I find myself squashing the grammar police in favor of cuteness.
My oldest walked into the living room this weekend as the Giants game was starting.
“Who are they versing?” he asked.
“Green Bay,” we answered without blinking an eye. Conversation over.
The word “versing” became part of my son’s vocabulary three years ago when he was in Kindergarten. We thought it was so cute and even defended how it “made sense” to his young, developing mind. It was this accepted error among his classmates and all of us chuckled on the playground together about it. It was cute, so why correct it?
Yet, here we are, three years later, and “versing” is now part of our family lexicon. Aren’t I supposed to be correcting these errors to instill an understanding of basic grammar?
With my daughter, I find myself ignoring major grammatical errors that used to be like nails on a chalkboard to my ears.
“Am’nt I good at this?”
“We goed to the library today.”
“I’ll be Pluto, you be Mickey, and Robbie be’s Goofy.”
I’m now ignoring things like “goed” and “be’s?” What is wrong with me? Why am I not teaching her simple conjugation? Oh yeah, because she’s three and it’s still cute. But, if I don’t start teaching them the correct way to speak and write now, will my own kids be the worst mutilators of the English language in the future?
When I taught, it was at the secondary level. I expected my students to already have the basics down before entering my writing workshops. Obviously, I expect kids (my own included) to learn the basics sometime between now and middle school.
So when should this transition from cute to correct take place? Is second grade too old to allow “versing” to go on uncorrected? Do I say goodbye to the preschool speech and start teaching Subject/Verb agreement?
What do you think?
When is the right age to start correcting your kids and teaching them proper grammar? Am I too late and have I screwed them up for life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.