Controlling Your Fate

Last week, when my little four-year-old friend, N. came for her weekly visit, she forgot to bring the memory game we were going to play, so I improvised. I took an old cookie sheet and put ten items on it: a knife, a pen, a watering can, a cookie cutter, a little green man, an apple, a candle, a measuring cup, an iPod, and a pig. I asked N. to study the items, then had her turn around while I removed one item.
20130203-204849.jpg When she turned around, I asked her to tell me which item was missing. She studied the tray, but she couldn’t remember what item was not on it. I showed her the knife that I had hidden behind my back. I put the knife back and told her to study the tray again before I took something away.

“Take the pig away,” she said. I explained to her that the purpose of the game was to remember, and if I took the pig away, she would know what was missing and wouldn’t have to remember, defeating the purpose of the game. She stared at me as if I didn’t know what I was talking about. “Take the pig away,” she repeated. I told her I wouldn’t do that and had her turn around again. I took the measuring cup away. When she turned around, she was clearly puzzled because the pig was still there, and she couldn’t guess what was missing. I showed her the measuring cup. “Now take the pig away,” she said in the tone of voice that let me know I was not playing by her rules, the only ones that mattered. Next round, I took the pig away. She was delighted when she got the right answer this time, as if it had been in doubt.

I like N’s approach to life. If you can’t win by the given rules, make your own rules. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were that easy for us adults? I would make the rule that children could not live farther than fifty miles from their parents.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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33 Responses to Controlling Your Fate

  1. Robin says:

    I love that idea, too. I would add that grandchildren must live nearby, too. 🙂

  2. pattisj says:

    I second that rule! You and your little friend have so much fun.

  3. winsomebella says:

    Sweet story—-I am glad you captured it before it slips into memory 🙂

  4. Amy says:

    Good for N. We were not allowed to talk back to adults…

  5. I have no doubt that N will be ruling the world one day….she is a born leader.

  6. Huffygirl says:

    I love your 50 mile rule Susan. Now can you tell that to my kids?

    • Coming East says:

      How far away are your kids, HG? I really can’t say anything because we left our parents in Connecticut and moved to Texas, taking their grandchildren with us. Now that we are on the receiving end, I understand how sad it must have made them.

  7. I really think that last rule should be written in our constitution… a new amendment… no child can live more than 50 miles away from their parents… wouldn’t that be great? Wonderful post… I will have to keep that in mind… take the pig away. I may adopt that philosophy. DAF

  8. Dianna says:

    I would love to be a fly on the wall, watching you interact with your little friend. I’m sure it’s a rewarding visit for both of you!

  9. Great idea for a game. I know my son would say “take the pig away!” too. 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      The thing I didn’t mention in my post, Murphy, is that when N. turned her back, I not only took one thing away, I also rearranged all the remaining items so they weren’t in their original places. That makes it harder.

  10. E.C. says:

    I really enjoy your posts about N. She sounds to be a delightful child.
    I like your rule, if only we could make it real.

  11. This is a game I play with little ones whenever I take them to a restaurant. It keeps them quiet until the food arrives.

  12. I love the 50 mile rule, too 🙂 And, like N, I have always loved to make my own rules (I’m not nearly as successful as she is, by the way)… and I think I felt very much this way when I decided to self publish my novel. I’m making my own rules — and although it may seem like the easy route — I think making up your own rules takes a lot of courage (it does for me). And I predict N will go far for it!

    • Coming East says:

      I think you are preparing the way for others, Julia, who are not brave enough to do what you are doing, though they have thought about it. Maybe you will give some of them courage to peruse their dreams in more creative ways.

  13. Love that last rule! Not sure I’m brave enough to try the memory game yet!

  14. What a clever game you made up. I like your rule in the last sentence.

  15. Al says:

    Love these stories of you and your friend. She is a built-in blog. I do think you got the moral to the story wrong however. I think it’s: “It pays to be pigheaded.”

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