It was the first day of school, and a throng of excited little kids waited bythe classroom door for their teacher to arrive. A few minutes before the bell rang to commence the day of learning, a singular shadow overtook the brood, and the excitement soon morphed into anxiety. An eight-foot tall canine with intricate markings upon his golden pelt stood before the children. He opened his mouth to address them.
“For the purposes of commencing this primary day within the confines of this classroom, I request with earnestly that this collective of persons congregated before this door part asunder that I may have opportunity to unlock it and thus, initiate said day.”
All of them just looked up at him, confused, not having any idea what he just told them. They continued to stand there, hoping that this large fox would clarify what he just said. Tamotsu was about to speak to them again when a teacher who was nearby re-translated what he said.
“He said that you should all move so he can get to the door.” Lisa said to them with a warm smile.
“You have my sincerest gratitude.” Tamotsu replied to his wife with a nod as the children moved out of the way. He unlocked the door, and all the children just began rushing in, causing much disorder.
“Relent, youths!” He raised his voice, “It is imperative that you bear prudence and not permit your zeal to cause you to hastily dash to your learning stations! I beseech that you rather forge a pathway to your desks in a temperate and orderly manner.”
“What?” One confused little girl inquired, stopping in her tracks.
“This present scenario is a maelstrom of discordant movement, and I require that all pupils present immediately and promptly locate a chair conjunct to yourselves and sit, that I may commence instruction in this incipient portion of the year.” He commanded, hoping that his reattempt at getting everyone seated quickly and orderly would succeed.
Lisa heard him struggling to maintain his class from her room, so she quickly marched over to help. There was a door connecting their classrooms, making the communication easier.
“Kids,” she spoke with a moderate tone, but also with authority, “he told you to sit down quietly and neatly. Please do what he says.” She instructed them, though she knew that his instructions were as clear as mud to them. She wanted to teach him how to be better understood by them, but wanted to wait till later since she didn’t want to correct him in front of his class and make him look inadequate.
“Thank you again, Lisa.” He replied, already starting to feel like a failure. However, he maintained his majestic poise and dignity. ”I will make it through this day, I just need to become acclimated to this environment, and my students will be understanding me in no time.”
Sadly, this would not be the case. Later in the day, it became time for reading, and Tamotsu gave them each a small book to read along in. He planned to read to the class from his own copy, and then have the students read back in unison what he just read. Simple, right?
And then he saw the grammar mistake.
He began a sentence which read, “Your welcome,” and he stopped reading, aghast that such a mistake would appear in a book meant to help children learn reading.
“Where’s...the apostrophe...?” He growled, and he began to snarl threateningly. His face crinkled as his outrage grew, and his teeth and fangs were exposed, revealing a canine that was none too happy. The children in the room became frightened, thinking he was going to have a violent outburst, and one boy began to cry.
Lisa was in the middle of an arithmetic lesson with her students when she heard the boy crying, and Tamotsu growling. She calmly told her class she’d be right back and quickly walked over to see what was happening now. When she opened the door, she noticed her husband was on the phone.
“Are you aware of this egregious blemish in your recent children’s tome, “Tommy Goes to the Zoo”? It is on page five.” He spoke clearly, firmly, and with a tinge of exasperation and disbelief.
“No, I am not...”
“The title character responds to a declamation of gratitude from his friend by saying, ‘you’re welcome,’ but the possessive form is used instead, thus, rendering this moment of dialogue as discombobulating, and obscures the character’s intention in his response.”
There was a pause, the author becoming scared. “...”
Lisa watched, her eyes widened a bit. She knew Tamotsu to be picky with words, but thought he was going a bit far here, even for him.
“I, uh, am sorry, sir.” The author replied simply. “I will fix that in another printing.”
“Your readers will thank you for that, but please cause this to happen before the subsequent academic year occurs. We cannot allow future generations to continue conflating ‘your’ and ‘you are,’ thus, wreaking havoc on our language.”
So after that, Tamotsu took a pencil and marked the book of every child so that they’d see ‘you’re’ instead of ‘your’. He let out a sigh of relief after finishing, having protected these children from faulty grammar. On page nineteen, he caught another error involving subject-verb agreement.
“Excuse me, class.” He sighed, and he walked to the telephone again to deliver another stern lecture.
By the end of the school day, the children left the room confused, and a little frightened. They were instructed to write a five-paragraph essay expositing and analyzing the story’s themes, and to cite evidence for their claims in a clear and concise manner. Tamotsu was generous, though; he gave them a full week to do it. He figured that since he was also going to have them give oral presentations of their work the day it was due, he should give them some time to practice delivering an oration.
Lisa’s students left her class having learned a lot, and were all happy to have had her as their teacher. However, she noticed Tamotsu’s class appeared confounded and nervous, as though they had not learned anything the entire day.
At home, Lisa asked her husband how his day went.
“It did not go as initially planned,” he sighed, “I am not certain that their learning experience was sufficient, and that I only struck them with trepidation and confusion instead of knowledge.”
“I heard some of what happened in your class, and please don’t take this as me being insulting or condescending...but I can see why you feel that way.” She answered nervously, not being one to criticize another like this, especially her husband.
“No, you are correct, and your conclusion is not unfounded. It is a struggle for me to communicate with children, as I am wont to utilize words substantially higher than their level of comprehension. If I do not amend this shortcoming, how can I ever teach those youths?” He shook his head slightly, displeased with himself.
“Tamotsu,” Lisa hugged him gently and smiled, “you tried your best, and you genuinely care about those children’s education, and that’s already a step past some teachers. I’ll help you do better with children, I promise.”
“Thank you,” he nuzzled and kissed her, “I do not know what I would ever do without you.”