It was the third Sunday in June when I opened an envelope to discover one of the sweetest notes I had ever received. Next to a curly-haired stick figure with a fiendish grin was scrawled a note: “Happy Phothersday DADDY.”
Father‘s Day! My brilliant editor’s brain instantly translated the terrible spelling with all the alacrity of British code-breakers during World War II.
To tell the truth, I had forgotten that the consumer-driven “Hallmark Holiday” was still on the books. But hey, it’s always great to open a thoughtful family card, whatever the occasion may be.
My wife sternly informed me of one more thing as I sharpened my editor’s pencil – don’t correct the kid’s spelling. It is considered bad form to copyedit a thoughtful, handwritten note.
This can present a dilemma for a word-loving dad. We carefully teach our children how to tie their shoes, brush their teeth and scrawl their first letters. But it takes a light touch to correct a child’s spelling. Unsolicited edits can easily hurt a kid’s feelings and even discourage him or her from trying again.
So I bit my tongue and resolved to leave the task of grading spelling quizzes to his teachers. Maybe when I read him a bedtime story tonight, I will casually spell out some of the tougher words. I’ll let you know how it goes.