Constructive Criticism & Grammar

Morning car rides with the boys usually produces one of two things: fights (the more common one) or quizzical conversation. For example, one morning a while back, Elijah asked me what the battle strategy for the civil war was and why they picked it. How to they set specific speed limits? I also once received a full explanation of the different types of moons. You get the idea. It’s a plethora of things that I usually cannot answer, but I do enjoy listening. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, one boy will ask and the other will answer. That makes for the most entertainment.

So, last week we’re driving to school and the following dialog occurs:

Elijah: “Aden, I think it will be good when you begin studying grammar because you do not always have the correct grammar.” I laugh to myself because of the matter-of-fact tone of his statement (he often reminds me of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory).

Aden: “That’s not nice!”

Me: “Elijah, maybe you should have said that in a nicer way, use constructive criticism.”

Elijah: “What does that mean?!” He’s clearly annoyed that his very honest statement was being put into question.

Me: “It means to be more constructive while giving critiques. For example, if you’re using a long and complicated way to figure out a math problem and there is an easier way, I might suggest another way by saying ‘you’re idea is good but let’s try another method too’ instead of saying ‘you have a bad way of doing math’.”

Elijah: “It’s too hard to do that!” In Elijah speak, that means what he said was honest so why sugar coat it? I think about it, I suppose he’s not incorrect, but you know the old saying, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Aden: “Elijah, you should really say nicer things to me because what if I learn from you and say something mean about someone else’s grammars?” Yes folks, grammars.

Elijah: “That’s EXACTLY what I mean. Grammars! Really Aden! You can’t even say that correct!” He’s totally exasperated at this point.

Thank you Aden, for proving his point. Never a dull moment. Ever.

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