Grandma's punctuation lesson
Grandma was ever so happy to have her two favourite grandsons, Tommy 10 and Jimmy 9, staying with her
for the weekend. Those boys were growing fast and could eat like navvies, real hungry navvies. And how
those boys loved meat and how Grandma indulged them, in fact, fed them nothing but meat.
"They are growing boys and what does it matter if I overfeed them on meat for a couple of days. When they
get home they will eat a normal diet again."
It was Sunday morning and lamb chops and pork sausages were sizzling away. As she began frying a pan of
bacon she recalled that yesterday at the barbecue they had eaten six steaks, several drum-sticks and ten
loin chops which they fairly ripped apart with their teeth and then munched the bones. And at dinner
last night they demolished two roast chickens and a giant meat pie. Good healthy food for that pair of
tigers, she thought, and was pleased to recall they hated McDonalds and detested pizzas. But where
did they manage to put all that they ate?
She turned the bacon in the frying pan and then went up the passage to rouse the boys. As she approached
their bedroom door she heard them talking. Curious as to what they were discussing she listened and this is
what she heard:
"Let's eat Grandma," said Tommy.
"Yes, I'm really, really hungry. Let's eat Grandma right now," said Jimmy.
Grandma was profoundly shocked and fled in fear to the kitchen where she flopped into a chair and sat staring
up the passage toward the boys' room.
Moments later, the boys appeared.
"I'm really really hungry," said Jimmy.
"I'm starving," said Tommy, "I want something to eat."
The boys approached Grandma, one either side, smiling and with their white fangs flashing. As they closed in
she shut her eyes and prepared to meet her doom.
Simultaneously, both boys kissed her on the cheek, and both said "Good morning, Grandma, what's for breakfast?"
The relief Grandma felt was such a surprise that she was unable to speak but it made little difference
as those two hungry boys were already greedily eyeing the meat and sniffing its delicious aroma.
After a minute or so Grandma felt courageous enough to ask a question. "What have you boys been doing?"
"We love those Writers Workshop stories you read to us, Grandma," said Tommy, "so we are writing a story
to read to you."
"Yes," said Jimmy, "it's about the barbecue we had yesterday. But we had a problem working out where to put
the commas in a tricky bit of the story. Maybe you can check that we have put them in the right places."
"What's the tricky bit, Jimmy?"
"Tommy said, 'Let's eat, Grandma.' and I said, 'Yes, I'm really, really hungry. Let's eat, Grandma, right now.'"
"It's sounds correct, but let me see what you have written down."
Grandma read the text and then said, "You got the commas exactly right in both those sentences. Would you
please read the next sentence to me?"
Tommy took the sheet and read, "'Grandma said, "I want to eat, too, boys."'"
"Ah," said Grandma, "there you've made a big mistake. What I said doesn't have any commas. Read it again,
Tommy, but without the commas."
Tommy read, "'Grandma said "I want to eat too boys."'"
Tommy and Jimmy collided at the kitchen door in their haste to escape, but at least they had learned
something from Grandma's punctuation lesson. Grandma's pleading, however, for them to "Come back and
have your breakfast!" had no effect whatsoever.