A three-fold list for any situation

09/14/2008 12:00 AM

09/14/2008 8:38 AM

It occurs to me that I'm constantly telling my son to remember things in threes. I don't know why I do this. I guess I figure one thing will get lost in the shuffle, two will get juxtaposed, but a third will make him think hard to remember at least the first two.

Until recently his list consisted of remembering his name, our names and his phone number. This was enough to get him through preschool.

But now he's started kindergarten and there seems to be much more to remember. I start prepping him for his first day of school with:

Do Your Best. Be Kind. Have Fun. I'm perfectly happy with this list. But the night before school, I realize I gotta hit him with a more pressing trio of things to remember:

Bus Number. Address. Cafeteria Pin.

Which is stressful because we just moved, his bus number has letters and numbers, and out of habit I erroneously keep telling him to press # after his pin number, like it's voicemail or something.

After an entire morning of practicing, he climbs into Daddy's car and opens his mouth to recite his digits, when Daddy cranks up the radio and says:

“Son, I want you to remember this: David Bowie.”

Are you kidding me? On a day he's trying to remember 12 numbers and letters in a row, you tell him you want him to remember some '70s rock star? And you don't even use it in a threesome?

Later, at bedtime, I can't stand it. I fill out the trio with Mick Jagger and Bono and tell him to save it for high school.

It also occurs to me that my lists are location-sensitive. In his bathroom it's: Brush Your Teeth. Comb Your Hair. A Ring In The Tub Doesn't Mean You're Clean, It Means The Bath Tub's Dirty.

In his room, when he's getting dressed, it's: Tag Goes In The Back. Everything Matches Blue Shorts. Socks That Crunch When You Pull Them On Go Straight To The Laundry.

The kitchen list is pretty standard: Use Your Fork. Don't Feed Your Brother. Green Vegetables Are Not Moldy.

And outside it's somewhat redundant: Wear A Helmet. Wear A Helmet That Fits. Just Going For A Walk? Wear A Helmet Anyway.

But … Do Your Best. Be Kind. Have Fun. That works wherever he is and wherever he goes. And it's more important than wearing his shirt right-side out.

Anyway, it's time to go work on my own list: Do The Laundry. Pick Up The Carpool. Dig Out All The Old Bowie Albums.

About Tracy Curtis

Tracy Curtis


Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Email Tracy at tcurtis@charlotteobserver.com.

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