Friday, June 15, 2012

Raising Jackson: 2 much txting mks u 1 bad splr

I'm gonna tell you something now that you're going to have a hard time believing.  But I promise...what  I'm going to tell you is the God's honest truth.

My son's grammar improved from texting.  So did his spelling.  Shut UP!  You say.  BS! You Cry.  No, YOU shut up!  Just kidding.  But, it's true.  Here's how.

I'm a word nerd.  And although I'm loathe to admit it, I've been called a grammer nazi more than once.  Which surprises me just a bit, because, really, it's my friend and fellow WWWP, Tammy, who is the REAL grammer nazi...actually not a nazi, she's quite kind, but she can dissect a sentence like nobody's business.

But I digress.

I fell in love with texting from my first text back in 2007.  It stands to reason... all forms of written communication interest me. Anyway, a few years later, my boys had phones of their own, and texting became their favorite form of communication, too.  I'd heard the rumors though, and as a grammar natzi, I was determined not to let my kids' english skills go to hell with the help of a device the size of an ampersand.  I die a little inside when I see texts like this:

how r u

wat u doin?

Ugh. Seriously?  And I don't want to hear that crap about character count.  Buy a vowel, for God's sake (see what I mean by Grammar nazi?).

I think I've digressed again.  Reading and Writing were Jack's least favorite subjects in school.  He is a very bright kid, but he couldn't spell to save his life.  When he got his phone and started texting me, I was appalled.  I mean, I knew my little angel wasn't a solid speller, but this was ridiculous.  I started correcting his texts in my replies.  Our text conversations looked like this:

Jack:  "Hey Mom! Can I go 2 Bens huose? Pleeze?"

Me:  "Ben's house?  Please?  And yes, if you send the text again with all the words spelled out correctly."

There were actually times when I refused to respond until he resent the message using "The Queen's English."  Believe me, when they need an answer quick, they're willing to work a little harder.

Jack: "if ur home, can u get my stuf and bring it over 2 dads"
Me: "I'm home.  If you're home, you could get your stuff. But, I'll get it and bring it to your dad's."

I honestly wasn't thinking about some great lesson taught through text message.  At the time, I was just frustrated with the spelling errors, and my grammar nazi alter ego shuddered at the shortcuts.

Slowly, over the course of a year, I noticed changes in his text messages.  He began spelling out words, and spelling them correctly.  He began using the correct form of a word.  No more did he confuse their, they're and there (my biggest pet peeve, thank you very much) or your and you're.  His writing at school improved markedly this year, too.  I'm sure it had more to do with his teachers than my text message "lessons" but I'm very proud of how far he's come.

There is one message, though, that I've never corrected.  Anytime I get any form of "I love you" like:
luv u
luv u 2
luv u

I've always just been happy to get the message, and didn't want him to think I was more concerned with the way it was delivered than the fact that it was delivered at all.

But, recently, jack has been spelling that out, too.  When he started, it looked like this: "I love you to"
my response:  "I love you, too!" It was enough.  And now I get "I love you, too."  Even the comma!  But, I'd take it any way he wanted to tell me.

Contrary to popular belief, texting can help, rather than hinder, spelling and grammar. Try it at home.  Really!  Texting doesn't have to suck every last grammar lesson from our kids' heads.  It can actually be another vehicle for learning... if we just go about it the right way.

(Author's note: I am fully aware that Jack still uses his own text language with his friends.  That's okay. At least I know that he can use proper grammar and spelling when it's necessary!)

Friday, June 8, 2012

On the Radio

I attended a fundraiser about a month ago for SLMOSF.  It's a fantastic organization, founded by my good friend, Keath Hausher, who also runs Shark Fitness (boot camp).  I was bidding on a basket from radio station 106.5 (the arch!), that included an hour on-air.  I would get to pick the music and serve as the guest DJ...SWEET!

I didn't think I'd do well off-the-cuff, so rather than tape the show live, I opted to pre-record my segment.

On Wednesday, I showed up at the radio station, stepped into the booth and had a microphone shoved under my nose.  Actually, that's not true.  Rick Wallace was incredibly kind and helpful.  At first I though I could wing it with just a few notes (just get the call sign right, I kept thinking), but, hey, I'm a writer, not a speaker.  So, I took Rick's offer of a notepad and pen, and I wrote - word for word - what I wanted to say each of the 7 times I was on-air.

Let's get this straight - I'm no DJ. But I do love music. I pulled together a list of my top 30 songs, which was cut down to about 12.  I won't divulge them here, as that would kill the spontaneity and joy of listening in.  Geez, the 70s and 80s were such great decades for music, weren't they?

But I digress.

I sweated through the first 20-second intro, and then got a little more confident with each reading.  Poor Rick - he kept trying to get me to bring my voice up a few octaves, but I was having none of that.  I hate the sound of my voice.  Most of us would say the same, I think.  It has something to do with our ear drums, and the vibration of our jaw.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I don't have a great voice - jaw vibrations notwithstanding.

At the end of my hour, Rick was kind enough to tell me I wasn't half bad.  Even thought I had a "cool" voice. (um, really? No, my new friend, you have the voice, which is why you have the day job!).  But, who knows? Maybe I've got a second career ahead of me... if the full time gig, the three kids, and the freelance writing thing are just not keeping me busy enough, (I've got a plethora of responsibilities as it is - that was for you, Rick) maybe Kevin'll want to put me on-air!  You know, during the holidays, 5am on Saturday, or hey, Sunday nights at 8:00.  I could have my own show...

"Just Beth!  Comin' atchya from Beautiful Downtown Ballwin!  Shakin' things up and slowin' things down... Turn it up and get down! Don't you go changin' (that dial)...we'll be right back with more of your favorites right after these messages..."

Ha, ha.  Reminds me of an awesome tv show from back in the day...

Les and Johnny on WKRP in Cincinnati
I'm thinking I can bring back old-school radio.  It must have been quite a feat for those DJs back in the 70s who had to cue up a song, drop the needle, talk the talk, answer the phone (hey! you're the fifth caller!) and read the news, weather and traffic updates.  Whew!  I barely got through 7 taped segments that all together added up to only about 2 1/2 minutes.  And I gotta tell ya...I was mentally exhausted!

But... it sure was fun.  Listen in if you get a chance.  This Sunday night at 8pm.  On... you guessed it...

Kevin? Rick? Whaddya think?  Good stuff, eh?