When I pulled the note out of Blair’s folder at school, I decided that the future of human civilization was crumbling right before my very eyes.
Here is what it said:
“This is a reminder that all children must get there Flu Shot by the end of December.”
I tried to convince myself that it was merely an innocent typo. But then, I read on: “Please bring in there immunization records with proof of there flu shot.”
I knew that my gasp of horror (because I gasped in horror) was slightly unfair, for several reasons:
1. I am a writer. And, before that, I was an editor. And before that I was an English major. And before that, I took No-doze to properly cram for spelling tests. If I didn’t know the difference between “there” and “their,” I should be forced to parade through the Acme wearing nothing but pages ripped from Strunk and White. Or something.
2. Even spell-check can’t tell the difference. And spell-check is God.
3. I figured out “that” and “which” only last year, though I suspect that I use a rule--“which comes after a comma and that doesn’t”--that I made up.
4. I needed an ex-boyfriend--a college-drop-out, stoner, ex-boyfriend--to explain to me when to use “it’s” and when to use “its.” (“Think of the apostrophe as replacing the ‘i,’” he said. And I do that. Every time. For example: “It is hard being so smart and important” can contract into “It’s hard being so smart and important.”)
5. Words I write are typically copyedited. By professionals. So there will never, ever be proof. Like in a note. From a school.
But this was in a note! From a school! And not just any school--the school where my kids go daily! To be schooled! Okay, it’s technically a “learning center.” But we pay big bucks for the learning center’s learning. I may be able to look beyond some of the things Blair brings home, things that are wrong on far more complicated levels. (For example, “Firecracker, firecracker, boom boom boom! The boys got the muscles. The teachers got the brains. The girls got the sexy legs. And we won the game!”) But I can not sit idly by while my child (who, incidentally, can't yet read such notes) even breathes the air where such affronts to the English language are left unproofed and unfettered and unabashedly written on notes to the very parents who are writing the checks.
The larger question was this: what should I do about it? In fact, I was puzzling out this very issue--my best plan, so far, was to write a note about it to the owner, though unsigned, perhaps using letters cut out from magazines, in order to protect Blair and Drew from any “their mom is a total bitch from hell” retribution--when I got an e-mail from a friend. She was passing along a note that one of her friends had just received from a preschool teacher:
“E. has not been wanting to participate in Music--she removes herself and set out when she decided she is not like the song. M. follow her. I spoke to them early on--telling them this was not an option and that if it happened again not only would Mom’s be told be them would be remove from Music. So yesterday the teacher brought both of them to the class room where they laid their heads down until the class returned. E. also lost her job. In taking her job I'm hoping she understands her actions had consequences.”
And, with that, I suddenly felt better about everything--our learning center, “their vs. there,” the future of human civilization. Because, now, I knew one thing for certain: Thirteen years from now, Blair and Drew would totally kick E. and M.’s asses on the SAT.