You pretty much know going into parenthood that you'll have shortcomings and failures. Sometimes they are expected and even predictable and other times they take you by suprise. This afternoon after school and after snack and after homework, Boy1 decided to write his grandmother a Christmas card. He's very upset about the fact that she won't be with us in France this year, for the first time ever (for him). Anyway, he set up his work area with all the necessary equipment. He came back into the family room where I was playing slapjack with Boy2. He asked me to write the letter while he dictated what he wanted to say. I had to do this because he doesn't know how to read or write in English yet - he's just learning how to do both this year in French. So, I wrote, or printed actually because my handwriting is not very textbook anymore, the letter. I told him he could write it in cursive himself. He went back to work and I went back to slapping jacks.
A couple of minutes later, he comes back in, agitated, borderline upset. Why is I capitalized if there is a comma after Grandma? I told him it's because it's after the opening address of the letter. He went away again.
He came back seconds later, tears in his eyes, is this an I like an L or an i but big? And of course all of this was in English but with French letter pronunciation. It was a conversation doomed from the start. I left my HEAPING pile of cards and went to see (literally) what the problem was.
It's an I, then why is it big? Because it's always big in English. So write it in French. But the letter's in English. Then write it with French letters (which are of course the same but at this point he's talking about style). I CAN'T.
Why not? Boy1 asks this question with true desperation in his voice. When I explain to him that we learn a somewhat different style of cursive in the US, the tears fall. His final line, "Then I guess you just can't help me."
When I got back to the family room and slapjack, I had like 6 cards in my pile. I looked at Boy2. He shrugged and said, "What, Mama? I don't know."