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 Learning Experience

Exhausted, Younger sprawled on the floor, tossing his grammar homework at me, displaying distinct disinterest in the grammar book I attempted to hand him.

“You can just do it for me. Your poor boy is exhausted.”

“I could,” I responded, shoving the book beneath his nose and determinedly pointing towards the lists and explanations on different pages. “But then what would you have learned?”

“I would have learned how to get you to do my work for me.”

Instead, he had a different learning experience.

How to quickly duck a swinging textbook.

Some lessons are harder than others.


And You Are Welcome

It was late and I had to rise early, when Elder knocked on our bedroom door.

“What?” I mumbled into my pillow, grumpy as always when my sleep is delayed.

“I need you to check my grammar homework,” Elder announced, flicking on the light as he walked towards my bed.

Not bothering to fumble for my glasses on the nightstand, I squinted at the ten questions, marking four as definitely wrong and another as possibly wrong. “I don’t know about this one,” I admitted, returning the worksheet and pencil to him so that I could bury my head once again into my pillow. “Some people get their tails in a knot over the use of ‘which,’ but I’ve never understood why. I think it is fine, but you need to check your textbook.”

Elder levered himself up from his splayed position on the bed beside me. “Thanks for your help, Mom. I think it’s right. I’m just gonna leave it. I don’t have a textbook.”

“You don’t have a textbook?” I questioned, confused, peering at him with unfocused eyes. “How does your teacher teach grammar without a textbook?”

“Don’t worry, Mom,” Elder reassured me, as he strolled from the room. “I’m sure she knows a lot more about grammar than you do.”

He really is an intelligent young man. All the standardized tests say so.

And I guess he did engage that intelligence at some point.

After all, he did wait until he was walking out the door before he insulted me.