A Pinkie’s Width

While checking my kids’ penmanship workbooks, I found it annoying that one child would leave gaping empty spaces on the page, writing only three or four letters per line.  It seemed that he was trying to see how little work he could get away with.  A part of me remembers how tedious it can be to write the same boring letter over and over again, I tend to be lenient.

One day, though, I was exasperated.  “Child!  You are supposed to be filling up these lines with letters.  You learn to have good penmanship by practicing.  Why do you keep leaving so much space between your letters?”

“But you told me to leave a pinkie’s width between my letters,” he replied as his eyes filled with tears.  He thought he was doing it perfectly, and was devastated to learn he was doing it wrong.

I don’t yell at my kids, so the tears puzzled me.  I tried to simultaneously calm him down and find out how he could possibly think his pinkie was two inches wide.

Ah, the old pinkie’s length between letters!  I must’ve needed a reminder to show instead of tell.


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