Sometime last year, when my son was in 5th grade, my mom brought out a box of items she had found that belonged to me during my 5th grade year.
In the box were letters my little friends had written me, a post card from Alaska, a unit on Texas my class had done, a dime store necklace, and a report I had written on black footed ferrets that I had made into a book.
I was so proud of that black footed ferret book. It had a green construction paper cover. I remembered diligently working on that book, carefully using my best handwriting and drawing the very best black footed ferret I could muster.
You have to know that 5th grade was the height of my academic career. I was chosen from four classes of 5th graders to the honorable position of office aide. This meant that I got to spend one hour each day missing whatever lessons those poor other students were suffering through to answer the office phone, deliver messages for the principal, take up attendance slips and other fabulously fascinating tasks.
Only top notch students were chosen for this position, since we had to miss a whole hour of class each day.
And do you know the first thing my son noticed about this top notch student’s black footed ferret book?
There was not a single period or comma.
In the entire book!
Oh! What ecstasies my son was in! You have never seen more gloating in your entire life.
He paid me back for every time I have asked him, “What goes at the end of a sentence?” or “What is missing here?” or “HOW MANY TIMES do I have to remind you to put your periods?!”
He hooted and hollered and rolled on the floor for a good twenty minutes singing loudly and with glee “Mommmmmmmy doesn’t know the ruuuuuules of puncutAAAAAAAAtion!”
The moral of this story is NEVER let your son see the work you did in 5th grade.
Because you might not have been as smart as you remembered you were.
On the other hand, if you have been in the habit of puttin’ on punctuation airs and have esteemed your smart 5th grade self higher than you ought, it might be just the remedy you need.