At the beginning of the school year, The Captain came home after classes one day and announced at the dinner table that one of the things they’ll be doing this year is focusing on peer editing for their composition works. I launched in to a long-winded explanation about why that was a good idea and how learning to take critique is very important, and how it’s just as important to learn how to give a critique (rather than just be an arsehole and tell one of your best friends that he wasted three hours of his life making a good story with bad pacing, and that it could be a great story if it weren’t for the bad pacing). I mean, I was pretty close to diatribe status.
Eventually, The Captain (who has far better manners than I have, you understand) stops me and says, “wait! You haven’t heard the best part of the story!”
I said, “malarky. There couldn’t possibly be anything better than the opportunity to edit your peers’ work!”
“So I told my teacher that it didn’t matter that I wasn’t in school the day everyone chose their peer editors because I’d already chosen mine!”
I cringed. Partly because I’ve seen some of his peers’ penmanship (and am loathe to be the parent of the person who has to decipher some of that garbage) and partly because with some of The Captain’s peers, there would be very little editing going on. It would all be about hijinks and PewDiePie (you see!? YOU SEE!? I am hip to the jive. I am with it. I am pickin’ up what the kids be throwin’ down these days. All modern and shit). “So…you picked M? D? K?” I asked, naming all of his friends I could name.
“No!” He exclaimed after each one. I feel in order to fully appreciate this scene, you must picture his eyes, shining with excitement. A grin, spreading across his face. Flappy hands. (Sorry, son. Those, you get from me.)
“IS IT A GIRL?” I asked.
“Yee-esss,” he said, his brow furrowing somewhat. When his brow furrows like that it looks like a Concerned Caterpillar. “But not…really. I mean, my peer editor is TOTALLY a girl. But not…”
“IS IT B!!?” I shouted. He had let slip the name of the girl he likes. I don’t broadcast it, because it embarrasses him. But I do tease him a little.
“No, Mum. It’s you. You’re my peer editor!”
“Yeah!” He was getting excited again.
“But …I’m not really… your *peer*. Isn’t that part of the exercise? To work with your peers?”
“Well,” he said, “here’s the thing. I told my teacher that it didn’t matter that everyone else had picked their peer editors because my peer editor was probably better than anyone they could get in, like, the whole school. Probably the whole town. THE WHOLE PROVINCE.”
“I mean,” I said, “I don’t know about the whole province…”
“THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!” He shouted. “AND SHE WILL EDIT MY STUFF BECAUSE SHE IS MY MOMMY AND SHE LOVES ME! HA- HA HA HA HA HA!” (need I point out that this culminated in a maniacal laugh? Because it totally did.)
“Well,” I said, “that’s fair.”
So tonight, I did home work .When I was done editing his work, he said what nearly everyone says the first time they work with proofreader or copy editor: “Wow. There’s a LOT of red on that paper.”
But damn. This parenting thing felt good.