You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
I grew up hearing this adage nearly as often as “Because I said so”; “You’ll have a big breakfast in the morning”; and “May I make a suggestion?”
These are phrases, thus, I swore to myself I’d not utter -- ever -- to my own children. I’ve made good on three of the four. (You can guess which one I must admit to using; send me a note with your “suggestion.”)
While I don’t ever say to my daughters, “You can lead a horse to water…,” I most certainly think it, often. And the older they get, the more frequently the phrase comes to mind. Does it come to mind when pointing out in a store what I wish they’d wear? Nope. Does it cause my neurons to fire when I show them uber-nutritious items on a menu, hoping they’ll pick those over the pizza, french fries, and a slice of mud pie? Nuh-uh. What about when I note a great summer-camp opportunity or volunteer project? Not so much.
Rather, as my middle school girls receive more and more writing assignments -- a workload in English class that only will increase as they make their way through high school, college, and maybe beyond -- I want them very much to drink from the water to which I try leading them.
They are kind enough (sometimes, anyway) to show me their writing assignments in draft form. I appreciate the pride they take in their work and desire to have my approval. But invariably there are grammatical errors, odd word choices (“Did you go to thesaurus.com for that?”), misplaced or missing commas, run-on sentences, and more. (Merridawn and I are so fortunate to be part of a writing-business partnership so we can correct and edit one another’s work before our writing gets put out there.)
For example, after I read through one of the girls’ essays, I must first check my impulse to immediately correct. So I engage in mental gymnastics, deciding what to say; in my head, my internal talking-to goes a little like this: “Remember to always start with the positive and then gently offer corrections or an alternative.” And, frankly, I believe what I express out loud sticks pretty well to my internal dialogue. In fact, I’m so successful at it, that the girls’ responses often lead with: “MOM! I TOLD YOU NOT TO CORRECT ME!”
See? Perfect harmony on the home front, especially at the writing desk.
I can lead my children to water, but I cannot make them drink.
In the professional world, however and fortunately, things are different. Folks hire 2B Writing Company knowing we can provide their proverbial saddle, reins, cowboy hat, and even spurs, if, for instance, we need to speed up to meet a tight deadline. We would love to help you quench your thirst; there’s nothing like a well-placed semi-colon or fun turn of phrase to stand in for a long quaff.
Do you have any favorite -- or not-so-favorite -- adages you’d like to share? Go for it!