A New Kind of Countdown . . .

Do you “count” you kids down?

You know, you tell them to do something and they don’t do it.

So you say, “One . . . ”

The implication is that you have told them once and you are keeping track, so you must really mean it. Or something.

Then you tell them again, and you say, “That’s two,” a bit more firmly.

Then you tell them again, and you say,  “Don’t make me get out of this chair!” They yawn.

And the countdown begins again.

The children learn they do not have to do anything you say because what you say does not really mean anything at all, and your frustration level escalates.

Well, I was at a craft show this weekend and met a lady who “counts” her grandsons and it is all different. I liked it.

She has taught these two boys to repeat a chant with her. It goes like this:

–Grandmother: One.

–Grandsons: One–I am going a wrong way.

Grandmother: Two.

Grandsons: Two–I need to find a different way.

You may wonder where the expected “three” is. On “three” she gets out of her chair. That’s one reason this method works.

(However, as a child, I am sure I would have been saying inside myself, “Three–I need to get OUT of the way!”)

As I observed these boys I marvelled. They had been without Mom for a week and were at a boring craft fair where it was not appropriate for them to do anything. They shared one toy truck and played on the ground with it.

When one boy decided to drive the truck on the sidewalk, Grandmother perceived he was causing a tripping hazard for the shoppers. So she told him to stop and return to the grassy places where her tent was.

He did this only briefly, then strayed to the sidewalk again.

Then she said, “One.”

He replied, “One–I am going a wrong way,” and he sighed, returning to the grass.

In less than a minute his toy truck had strayed again. And Grandmother said, “Two.”

He answered, “Two–I need to find a different way.” Then my jaw dropped, I am sure, as he calmly walked over to his brother, handed him the toy, and wryly said, “See if you can keep this thing off the sidewalk. I can’t.”

I imagine these two little guys, someday at age 35 or so, filling out a tax form or zipping down a highway, temped to “forget” some benefit or accelerate too much, and hearing Grandmother say to them, through the ages, “One . . . “