Dad Declines Caldecott Winner

They say one of a baby’s first non-verbal forms of communication is pointing.  Clicking must be somewhere just after that.  -Annonymous

I miss crayons—the really fat crayons from kindergarten.  Some of my neatest and most legible writing probably originated with the crayon.  Despite epochs of time designated to coloring in the finest of coloring books, my fine motor skills never progressed.  Even though I liked to color Pooh and Piglet obnoxious colors and write “butthead” over their likenesses, I still thought I managed to turn out some pretty nice pictures.  But, my handwriting still suffers.  Unfortunately, Rowan University isn’t really aligned or in touch with expressing one’s self through Crayola.  So, these days I insist they give me my laptop or give me death!

As I mentioned, my journey (if you will) through writing began with crayons.  I used to like to draw on paper (obviously), walls, and in books that did not belong to me.  My favorite canvas was perhaps my sister’s sticker book; I sabotaged it with soap-scented blue crayons.  Her sticker collection was significantly altered after I was finished with it.  I wrote “butthead” on the particle board backing of her desk about fifty times.  But, I believe that was with a red crayon.  Markers were really never my thing—there’s this sort of harsh permanence about markers.  Of course, crayon isn’t easily erased, but markers are messier.  You don’t see too many kids walking around with crayon markings on their hands.  I always did enjoy using a nice new Sharpie, right out of the box.  Sharpie has this professional connotation.  When I’m writing with a Sharpie, it’s like I’m doing something official!

I hate pencils.  Pencils smear on your nice lined paper.  Pencils break in the middle of the state-mandated assessment you’re taking.  Pencils need sharpening.  And, don’t tell me I could just use one of those silly mechanical pencils either.  Those are the worst kind.  Do I really feel like buying replacement graphite?  The last time I attempted this I bought the stuff thinking maybe it would work out, but quickly realized there is this absurd point system.  There is point seven something graphite; hey, there is even point five whatever graphite.  Is that supposed to be in millimeters?  I don’t even know.  I remember when I was in grade school and we were learning how to write our letters on that yellowish, awful paper and that was where all my problems began.

I never seemed to hold a writing utensil correctly.  I have two fingers on top of the pencil, not enough fingers behind the pencil and I’m probably not angling it right either.  That was essentially my teachers’ diagnosis throughout my years of penmanship.  Learning cursive was even worse.  Cursive causes an unknown loss of one of my synapses every time I see it.  Why does a “q” look like the number two in cursive?  I couldn’t manage to make my print uniform enough to meet guidelines and standards, now I have to learn an alternate form of ruining the letters as if I don’t already know how to?

I was the student who always received warnings on their papers for illegibility.  My teachers would say, “If this isn’t written clearly, next time you’re getting a ZERO!”  So, after years of some teachers telling me to print, some telling me to produce cursive, and some requesting hieroglyphics, I seemed to merge my writing styles.  This led to what I write in now (when forced), which resembles the mysterious half print and half cursive creature.  Cursigoreas is a horrid, six-headed sea creature who terrorized children in Greek mythology—and so, I digress.

God bless the word-processor and Bill Gates and PC’s and even the My Documents Folder.  Now, that I’m in college and I don’t actually have to show professors that pre-writing crap we had to do in high school, I do all of my composition on my computer.  I have abolished the use of pre-writing.  Why do I need to draw a stupid web or outline when I have a backspace button?  I always thought outlines took away from writing anyway; the formality required leaves students just filling in spaces with worthless information so their pre-writing looks complete.  I liked to write stories when I was little, but I could often never read them because I would have no idea in hell what I had written.  In attempts to try to solve that problem, my parents purchased me a kid-friendly typewriter.  Usually, it never worked or somehow ink would end up on our kitchen counter and my dad would tell me I no longer needed to worry about writing my Caldecott winner.

My sister had one of those word-processors with the scary green pixilation.  The sticker book incident must have resonated with her, because I was never allowed to use the word-processor.  Oh, well.  I was in sixth grade when we got our first computer; it was fairly massive compared to the HP notebook I have now.  So, I’ve spent a number of years typing.  And, I think carpal tunnel is for pansies.  I got more calluses from a darn pencil than any sort of pain from typing.  These days, I sit in bed at three in the morning with a cup of coffee and make Microsoft Word do all the work for me.  Word has even allowed me to take my procrastination to a whole new level, since now I can type several pages in an hour or so.  I don’t need to even start my work until the night before they’re due!

Honestly, I do think writing on my computer has made me a better writer.  I can constantly scroll up or down and check out my progress and make changes without it being a major ordeal.  I hardly even do drafts anymore.  I sit down, frequently save and edit my work, then re-save and print it out to be turned in.  I find it amusing when parents and educators claim children today are far too engrained in turning to the computer rather than writing in a traditional matter.  My writing was horrible when it was on paper.  Using programs like Microsoft Word gave me the cohesiveness I was missing and helped me to really write some good material.  Like just a second ago, I wrote the word “stuff” to conclude the prior sentence.  Then, I thought to myself that professors probably don’t much care for the word “stuff,” so I changed it.  Ha.  I am thankful for my time spent with the crayon and I even can say I embrace markers and pens.  But, pencils get no respect from me.  Kids never stand in line to sharpen a laptop, do they?  If I tried to narrate my history of writing with a pencil, I’d be on the third sentence right about now.

Just think about it.  Artificial Intelligence usually beats natural stupidity.  –Annonymous.


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