I have a little jingle that I sing to make the basics stick (can I embed audio in Blogger?):
"Sentence starts with a capital letter;
Sentence ends with a punctuation mark!"
Last year, with some take-their-time first-graders, it finally got so that as I was observing them writing, all I had to do was lean close and hum the jingle and they'd check both ends of their sentences--but they still needed that reminder until the very end of the year.
For some of us, these conventions are not just conventions; they're an art form. I freely manipulate these influential little marks to inflect and pace my written language, with the aim of helping my readers hear my voice. I find it fascinating and baffling that so many adults seem to regard punctuation as optional or meaningless.
My student Talia will not be one of those. She's a reader, a thinker, a noticer and--as I was at this age--a corrector of painful precision. (Memorably, at three I informed my mother, who had asked me to put something in the trash can, "It's not a can, it's a basket.") This week, as I was waxing rhapsodic about capitals and the three important ending punctuation marks, Talia interrupted to point out that I had just said "pinctuation," not "punctuation." A teacher could get impatient about such a remark, or a teacher could write a poem. A pink poem.
As it turns out, a teacher could start a poem, but not finish one. I thought I was going to write a rosy little piece for 6-year-olds, but sometimes a poem gets uppity and starts acting like a character in a novel, bossing the poet about and refusing to come quietly. So it is today. I weigh the options: post the poem-in-progress, with all the risk that entails, or delay until it's "finished," knowing that you, dear Poetry Friday visitor, may not return to see what pinctuation means to me. Hmm.
As I get older, I get a little wiser, but see: I'm impatient after all.
Pinctuation Lesson One:Pinctuation is for everyone, boys and girls,
and all must find their precise shades of pink.
Winter, spring, summer and fall,
we can all dress our sentences
to fit the whether.
Correct pinctuation is required;
creative pinctuation is inspired.
Pinctuation Lesson Two:Every sentence starts with a heart.
Pink is the capital of the United States of You.
[rest of stanza 2]
Pinctuation Lesson Three:In the end, pinctuation marks the moment.
Beneath your telling statement beats
a feeling colored pink. Your brain believes
it's neutral gray, but heart trumps it.
When you ask a question, your
whowhatwherewhenwhy quivers pinkly
with uncertainty. Why try to hide it?
And if you exclaim satisfaction or delight,
shock, surprise, excitement,
your heart rises to your face, flushed with pink.
Your heart commands: embrace it!
Heidi Mordhorst [draft] 2012
all rights reserved
Pop on over to the wonderful Gathering Books blog with Myra Garces-Bacsal today for some Valentinian variety!