Be glad you’re not my kid. At 13, he’s already had to endure years of unsolicited lessons on proper grammar, usage, syntax and vocabulary, not unlike one several months ago that started like this, when literally was his word du jour:
Him: It’s literally raining cats and dogs right now.
Me (looking out the window): By golly, you’re right! I just saw a pug, two terriers and a tabby bounce and roll on the pavement.
At least he grinned. Humor works so much better than reminding him of the difference between literally and figuratively for the 86th time, which tends to elicit the eye roll he’s come to perfect. Similarly, I’ve found giving him a certain look is worth at least, oh, 30 words:
Him: Can me and Seth hang out this weekend?
Me: (Looking at him with a pained expression that says Did you really just say that? A shake of the head can also be effective here.)
Him: Seth and I … sorry.
We editors and writers all have our pet peeves … and typically at least one client who makes the same mistake over and over, despite our repeated corrections and accompanying explanations about why such usage is incorrect (e.g. vs. i.e., anyone?). Not unlike a teenager.
And, admittedly, it’s made me a little crazy in the past (in case that part isn’t crystal clear by now).
But here’s what I’ve figured out: No matter how much we care about something, how passionate we are in our convictions, others may not feel the same way. That applies to writing and editing, to parenting and to pretty much everything else: work, play, politics, religion, relationships, sports, music … and on and on.
So what can you do? In the immortal words of Elsa (aka Idina Menzel) from Frozen, “Let it go! Let it go!” Seriously.
By that I don’t mean allowing typos, grammatical errors and usage mistakes to run amok. I mean letting go of the need to be right.
If you’re a writer, it means recognizing the difficulty in editing your own work and asking for help (I can highly recommend a certain proofreading company …).
If you’re an editor, it means acknowledging that a client or customer may choose not to accept your suggestions, no matter how on point and grammatically correct they are or how many times you’ve made the same edits.
And if you’re a parent, it means understanding that your kids may need to hear the same thing a hundred times (or more) before it seems to click. But when it does, it’s a beautiful thing:
Him: Seth and I were talking about getting together over Thanksgiving break. Is that OK?
Me (smiling): Yes. Yes, it is.
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