The Children's Book Quote of the Day

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A thoughtful grammar lesson April 19, 2010

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 10:35 am

“Oh, it is the saddest tense,” sighed Rebecca with a little break in her voice; “nothing but ifs, ifs, ifs! It makes you feel that if they only had known, things might have been better!”

Miss Dearborn had not thought of it before but on reflection she believed the subjunctive mood was a “sad” one and “if” rather a sorry “part of speech.” (from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin)

If there’s any one thing I’ve learned from fellowship in a recovery church, it’s to stay far away from the subjunctive mood. It is so easy to get mired in the ifs, should haves, and what ifs of the past. When I was very young I worked for a ministry that imploded because of a terrible sin. It has been a long journeyof trying to break free from the walls I have built around my heart because of that one incident. So many times I asked myself, “What if I had seen the signs?” “What if we had had more support from mentoring ministries?” “What if I had never gone to work there?” It is easy to slip into these questions when I remember the pain of losing several close friends, a ministry I had poured myself into, and my job all in one quick couple of weeks. But in the intervening years I have learned so much. I thank God for the church that took us in and helped us heal even though we were not alcoholics or drug addicts. I thank God for the clear teaching I have enjoyed from Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, and others through their written and recorded studies. And I thank God for the husband He gave me to help cover my heart when it was so tender, and the friends who stood the test of time.  No more subjunctive moods for me. I’m breaking free and believing God.

On a completely unrelated note, I have been laughing myself silly at the composition lessons in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. It is hilariously frustrating to see a teacher advising a pupil so poorly in the art of composition. It reminds me, sadly, of the way writing is still sometimes taught in public school. I would like all writing teachers and standardized test scorers to read this book and see how silly it really is to make your writing as formal and bombastic as possible.

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One Response to “A thoughtful grammar lesson”

  1. Shanna Says:

    I strive to the utmost to endorse rigorous bombasticism in all inscribed endeavors submitted by my pupils.

    I love this quote and I love your thoughts. There is so little value in the subjunctive mood, and I have to be careful or I’ll find myself dwelling on what I should have said or should have done, asking ifs and suggesting maybes. But none of that changes anything, and it doesn’t make it feel better. My friend Hilary’s mom says, “Don’t ‘should’ on yourself!” and I think that’s a pretty good command to live by. I tell it to myself whenever I get started with my ifs and shoulds.


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