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  • Writer's pictureKim Catron


My daughter punctuates all of her text messages with exclamation points. For some odd reason, this makes me feel good. Great, actually. The little line with a dot at the bottom makes me read her words, her responses to my inquiries, as if she is energetically shouting them to me across the miles. It’s as if what I have said to her is the best thing that she has ever heard, and that I, of course, am doing this “Mom” thing right (insert pat on back here).

A few months ago, I texted her with a mundane question. I don’t even remember what it was. She is only an hour and a half away in college, so it may have been something as banal as telling her what time I would pick her up so she could come home for the weekend and that I needed to stop off at Costco on the way back. Her reply was something like, “Great!” My daughter couldn’t wait to see me. The thought of my impending arrival to her was stupendous, it was great! I had made her day.

For some reason, that I will regret until the day I die, I replied back with this inquiry: Are you really that excited or do you always use an exclamation point instead of a period? I don’t know why I asked; I should have known better. Her reply was that she always uses an exclamation point out of habit. Like a scene from a horror movie where the main character has just started to figure out that her husband is the killer and he is in the house, my brain started shooting me memories of all of her texts, the incessant exclamation points after everything. How could I not have seen it?

But this is what I have learned from it, a lesson, I’m sure my daughter in no way attempted to teach me, punctuation matters (and not in the “Let’s eat Grandma” sense) to the receiver. Take this as an example. A man has just proposed to his long-time girlfriend. Her response is yes.

Yes. Not a very exciting response is it? Maybe she’s only marrying him because she feels she has no other options? Blasé really.

Yes? Oh, oh. This marriage will ultimately not happen.

Yes— This will undoubtedly be followed by a “but”. “But” now is not the right time. I need to figure out who I am (and so on).

Yes… This will be undoubtedly be followed by a “but” also. “But” my family is crazy and they’ll make my life crazy trying to plan a wedding, so why don’t we elope right now!

Yes! Enough said (kiss kiss, all good).

So much of our daily communication consists of short phrases, sometimes only single words typed into our phones and sent across, well, whatever they are sent across. Why not make the most of the punctuation. Why not make the receiver feel the joy that comes from an ! instead of a mere .

Try it next time. Even though I now know that my daughter chooses to use an ! to end everything (and I am happy that she punctuates), it still makes me happy and excited to see them at the end of her responses. It does my heart good, and it always makes me smile.

And we can certainly use more of that feeling right now in this world.

Let’s give it a try.

I mean, Let’s give it a try! (see, it does something to you, doesn’t it?)

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