Unreal Rectangles

Last night, as I reviewed Younger’s English homework, I pointed to one particular sentence in the assignment. “What is the subject of that sentence?”

“Moss,” he answered confidently.

“No, ‘moss’ is the object of the preposition ‘of,’ ” I responded keeping my finger on the sentence. “What is the subject? What is the sentence about?”

“Green,” he offered.

I frowned at him. “No, ‘green’ modifies ‘moss.’ The ‘of green moss’ is a prepositional phrase. What is the subject?”

“It can’t be ‘rectangles,’ ” he announced, challenging me to argue.

Undaunted, I stated, “Yes, it is ‘rectangles.’ The ‘rectangles of green grass covered . . .’ The rectangles covered.”

“No, no,” he assured me. “It can’t be ‘rectangles.’ Rectangles aren’t real.”

This young man just received his ACT score, and, somehow, he earned an impressively high score in the English section.

But he cannot identify the subject of a sentence because rectangles aren’t real.

I don’t even know any more.


A Different Language

My family has been disappointingly boring this week, so I thought I would share an old story from 2001 when Elder would have been five years old…

One of the morning educational shows feeds the kids a few Spanish words every day. So, Elder has struggled to understand exactly what is language in general and English and Spanish in particular.

In the midst of this battle, we had to visit the doctors’ office who has a plastic jungle gym in their waiting room. Another boy, waiting for his mother, joined my two boys as they scrambled through tunnels and down slides. And eventually the two older ones struck up a conversation.

“You speak English?” Elder asked at the end of another dialogue involving Pokemon.

The other boy swung by his arms from the gym. “No,” he told Elder, obviously uncertain as to the meaning of “English.” “I don’t speak English.”

“Oh,” Elder said, knowingly. “You speak Spanish then.”

And my husband and I must speak French.

At least that seems a decent explanation as to why Elder never quite seems to understand us.