Fanciful Quotation Marks
She was at an age when penmanship was becoming important in her desire to communicate. She could see that the big loopy, flowery letters with circles to dot the I s was childish and not the way she wished to be known. Flipping open her college rule tablet she would practice cursive until it was fine tuned and even now described as elegant.
Something different indeed. Her Grade 5 teacher had requested her parents attend a special parent-teacher conference and she was to participate also. They were all worried about what it could be about, and they could only make guesses, nothing firm. The last time a special conference had been called it was in second grade and she had not been included. Miss Hansen told her parents that her imagination was too fanciful and she was too full of stories and wandering thinking to succeed in making friends or achieving success in mathematics. Her parents had come home and told her to stop being so lazy, pay attention, the teacher knew what was best, and she was never to tell another lie to anyone. That was to be the end of it, but it was not. Miss Hansen wrote on her permanent record which followed her to graduate school – “This child is lazy and has a tendency to tell fanciful lies. Parents notified and confirmed. ”
That indeed is another story with more details and imagination involved. She now felt her stomach tighten and she knew she needed to just be polite and proper. Listen. Let her parents do the talking.
There indeed was a need for a special conference, Mr. Goodin commented right away as he greeted and thanked them all for attending. There on top of his desk was her STATE report that she had completed; her beautiful penmanship every other line for 3 full pages. Mr. Goodin began, “This is some of the most wonderful writing I have ever read from a student. I wanted you all to come in so I could share what a talent and gift this girl has and encourage you to find a creative writing class for an extracurricular activity. I know they are hard to find, but the gifted student’s teacher is running a class in summer school this year and I was hoping you could sign her up for this experience?”
Her parents indeed were excited to hear this news and shared that they had been concerned that she was a behavior problem, or lazy, or always reading during class some novel, or that she just never did her math homework; she just stared into space for hours at the dining table and never completed it. They were a bit pleased that she had done something well. They could not possibly sign up one child for a special class showing favorites over the older children, and were planning to teach summer school themselves at University, “We will be out of State all summer; our vacation is camping on the trip from here to there and back. She can just practice writing in the car.”
Indeed her eyes could not be removed off the report and the beautiful letters. Mr. Goodin had his thumb resting on the top of two paragraphs near the bottom of the visible page, should she tell him that she had copied those two paragraphs about the facts of her state, directly from her mother’s set of Encyclopedia at home? When Mr. Goodin said that her writing was so advanced should she tell him that she had copied those two paragraphs directly word for word? Her foot curved round the chair leg, and she put her hands, which had written the beautiful letters on the pages and had copied two paragraphs, neatly onto her lap. She had agreed with herself to just keep quiet and be still, this still seemed best.
Mr. Goodin indeed enthused some more about how advanced her writing was and that he hoped her parents would encourage her. As they all stood to leave, her mother said, “We could never encourage her to be a writer, singer or in the theater, because that is no life for a person, and we do so thank you for your kind words. What do you say to Mr. Goodin, dear?”
“Thank you very much.”
The whole family celebrated with a small toast with a glass of tomato juice before dinner.
Indeed in Grade 6, Mrs. Blanco taught her class about quotation marks, footnotes and sourcing their material for their COUNTRY reports. This time she felt very guilty for not confessing her error of copying.
Forty years later, she indeed still feels that transgression every time she writes. She wonders why her parents never thought to say that her writing might be a bit advanced for her age, because she had read the whole set, each book in turn, of her mother’s encyclopedia, when she was 6? But then again they needed to be fair; her siblings could not read well at all.
Now indeed in the computer age her penmanship is still beautiful and elegant, and she tells her self, every time she writes that her words are beautiful; indeed this is enough.
Did you ever have a special teacher conference for something you did well? Did your parents and family encourage you with your talents? How was your penmanship then and now? Does it communicate who you are?