Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Beth Diane Bradley
I recently had the pleasure of reading stories to my partner’s 18-month-old grandson. I showed him different books, trying to determine which ones he wanted me to read. When we got to Frosty the Snowman, I decided it would be fun to sing the lyrics. This apparently did not please Jaxon, as he started to cry.
I have memories of both triumphs and failures when it comes to communicating with my own sons when they were young. And since they’ve grown up, I often wonder if I still remember how to relate to humans under 5-years-old.
During my second pregnancy, I assured my son, Dylan, the new baby would become his playmate. I forgot to tell him that would not be instantaneous. He was not happy when he found out newborn babies can’t play with blocks.
When Dylan was 4, he took a bus to pre-school. And I walked him to the bus stop a few houses down the road every day. Sometimes my 2-year-old son would get out of bed while we were gone, and wonder where we were. Since Andy was too young to read a sticky note, I told him I would leave his toy school bus by the door, as a sign for him I was putting his brother on the bus.
As with any family with two or more kids, the boys quarrelled about whose turn it was to do certain things they deemed to be special such as riding in a shopping cart, pushing an elevator button or playing with a favorite toy. I wanted to create a plan where they would automatically know whose turn it was for everything.
One evening over dinner, I took the green beans on my plate and put them in groups of odd and even, so they could see the difference. I showed them how their names were like the groups of beans, one with 4 letters, and one with 5. And then I explained that each day of the month was either an odd or even number. So the kid with an even number of letters in his name got to be first on even days, and the other on the odd days.
And The Day System was born.
The final detail was what to do about the months with 31 days. Of course I made the obvious choice of breaking the day in half — kind of like the “changing of the guard,” only without the cool hats. It would have been way better with those.
I’m not sure if any of this helped them in school, because I’m a very unlikely math teacher. However, it did work to end the bickering.
Oddly … despite their early exposure, neither of my sons grew up to be bean counters. And unfortunately, I haven’t found any more excuses to play with my food. I also decided that, from now on — to keep from scaring babies — I will only sing in the shower.