I find myself thinking that bringing back National Service for men between the ages of 15 and 35 might be an excellent thing. I also entertain pleasant fantasies about the compulsory culling of those who obstinately refuse to learn the rules of the apostrophe.
(Lynne Truss in Talk to The Hand The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life)
Mum called me to the dining room just now. Her face a picture of panic. ‘Look at this. Aamena’s writing letters to boys. Zehir and Zahid. She’s only eight years old…’ I felt the world collapsing around my ears. I’ve witnessed first-hand the proficiency of primary school flirts. At least they were nine years-old. Surely we still have a year to bask in her disarmingly innocent world view. Mum’s in a panic. The hand-made envelope says, ‘To Zahid and Zehir Thank you From Aamena.’ Do I rip it open? Will it signal an end to thinking of Aamena as a child? She still watches the Cartoon Network. She hasn’t even latched onto Hannah Montana yet. Is it a sister’s place to peek into personal correspondence thus? Her life suddenly passes before my eyes. It’s unethical. I can’t. How would I feel if my correspondence was so haplessly subjected to public scrutiny? No, I would fear more for the public than my correspondence. But little Aamena. Sweet, little Aamena. Eight years old! She did pick up the art of ordering a latte rather early. But writing letters to boys! Nonsense! We’ll nip this in the bud. With little deference to the envelope, I rip it open. Mum watches, expectant. Doom has come a-knocking.
To: Zahid & Zehir
I am very sorry for teezing you. Please forgive me. I am really sorry. I didn’t mean it. I was just playing with you. I beg please forgive me.
I breathe a sigh of relief. Not juvenile flirtation. Just one spelling mistake. Apostrophe used correctly. But teasing other kids? Hadn’t we taught her any better? Aamena….