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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

The Truth About Dangling Participles
by Kathryn Elizabeth Jones

Ok. So you've heard this one before. "Enjoy your children. Before long they will be grown up. You will blink your eyes. Turn around. And whoosh! They will no longer be children."

But they are dangling from my legs! You scream. I don't get a moment's peace!

I love the definition of a dangling participle I found online recently from The Grammar Doctor. In part it reads, "To most people a dangling participle sounds like a serious, possibly fatal physical problem. In fact it is only a problem with a modifier."

What's a modifier? You ask. Descriptive words like, "The children made an awkward attempt at extricating me from the chair" Or, "The children were very angry when I didn't budge."

Perhaps it would be safe to say here that I love my children. Ok, I love them especially well when they are playing alone or sleeping. I even love them when all they need is a quick hug and kiss so that I can get back to my writing.

When that doesn't happen, I leave my keyboard and take each child in hand to get a glass of water or another graham cracker later to be crushed into the living room carpet. (But I don't think about that yet.) Just the idea of keeping them quiet for a few more minutes so that I can write pleases me plenty.

And I get a few more minutes. Maybe only two or thee and sometimes as much as fifteen, but my time in front of the typewriter has been extended and that is all that matters.

Or is it?

I don't know when I started to figure it out, but my children were walking steadily when I wondered if the old women with ratted hair and blue hair dye were speaking the truth. Was I really trying to replace what I loved with what I must have loved less though I truly loved it?

Looking back now, I'm glad those dangling participles got the best of me. I'm glad I decided to modify my life. Sure, it was difficult to put the writing aside while my children were awake. Sure, it was hard to put my writing down after they'd awakened from their naps or awoke in the evenings for yet another cracker.

But one thing was sure. My children were no longer a "serious...physical problem," for me because I'd decided to place them above the words I'd written. Life without the written word would, of course, be meaningless, but what of my life without my children?

Thoughts came and stayed with me during those long hours and months and years of changing diapers, cleaning up crackers and reading bedtime stories. I wrote some of these experiences down during those snatches of time when my children were sleeping or playing or eating. And sometimes I would dream about the hours of writing I would have when they had grown up.

But only when I forgot.

Kathryn has been a published writer since 1987. She has published various newspaper and magazine articles, essays and short stories for teens and adults. She is also the author of A River of Stones found at A River of Stones.com. To contact the author please send e-mail to kathy@ariverofstones.com









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