FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

McDonald’s Reflection

Written By: Scot Butwell - Mar• 15•15

mcdees sign

I opened an email this morning at McDonald’s with a grammar joke, “The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar. It was tense.” And then I read another one:

Knock knock!

Who’s there?


To who?

No, to whom?

My eighth-grade English teacher once looked at me and said, “Scot, name two pronouns.” To which I replied, “Who? Me?” I think I was half paying attention, and the straight-A girl sitting next to me laughed.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

She laughed again, and I didn’t get it.

Until, my English teacher explained it.

Who and me are both pronouns.

I didn’t see what was so funny.

At least, until I became a teacher.

These grammar “jokes” are what I imagine social situations often feel like for D.  They are like the past, present and future tenses trying to carry on a conversation in a noisy bar.

I didn’t begin to grasp grammar until my early twenties. Verbs. Nouns. Adjectives. Adverbs. Pronouns. Prepositions. Conjunctions. Interjections. Comma splices and Pluperfect tense.

Parts of speech didn’t really sense to me, nor to probably most of my classmates, until I got serious about writing in my early 20′, and as an English teacher, I still don’t know what Pluperfect tense means.

So, I figure it may take time, as it did with me to understand grammar, for D to develop his social competence, to be comfortable whacking words back and forth and to thrive in a conversation.

I’m sure this’s is the case for many kids: Introverts, quiet, shy kids, action-orientated boys. As a late blooming conversationalist, I wasn’t prone to stringing together many thoughts in multiple sentences.

Short responses to my parents, teachers, and friends–that was me.

When I went to my first middle school dance, a girl–actually it was friend of a girl–asked me if I wanted to dance with her friend. “I guess so,” I said. Then a few more girls asked me dance, and I said  “sure,” or “okay.”

A conversation–when you deconstruct it–is like improv acting. One person says a thing, another person says a thing, a new thing is said, the other person responds, a chain of dialogue develops like a popcorn string.

Poof! You have a wacky scene.

That’s what I wish someone would have told me as a kid; not that it isn’t, or wasn’t, okay for a kid not to say too much. But knowing the principles of conversation would have helped me.

One person says a thing. Another person responds. A chain of conversation develops. Each person tries to keeps it going. 

I’ve been using D’s angry birds figurines as personas to practice “improv” scenes with him, and it’s been like magic, hearing the beautiful stream of dialogue flowing between us.

Will it transfer to his everyday  conversations? I don’t think so. I hope so. Maybe, I’ve been thinking, I need to enroll D in an “improv” acting class.

Nah, we’re already doing this, and pretending to be angry birds with him is too much fun. Hey, You whah. 

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