I never truly appreciated the skill of arithmetic until I was keeping track of several children. Names and faces are good, but numbers rarely mislead, as long as you are counting your own children that is. So far I am good in that respect. I just look for the group of little blondes that stair-step from waist high down; one, two, three, four, five, six.
Counting becomes like a security blanket. While at the super market I keep a constant count; two in the basket, one in the hand, two hanging onto the cart, and one getting the milk. “You two! You Two! Hold on to the basket. Do NOT let go again! And you, move over and make room for the milk. STOP kicking the bread.” At this point everyone gets in trouble. Once everyone is settled, six little faces look up dejectedly; perfect for another recount.
Off to the next aisle. “You guys stay put while I grab the cheese.” In the time I take to turn and turn back #1 is chasing #2 around the cart, both squealing with delight. The fun was short lived though. After I delivered a small rebuke I quickly performed a head count to make sure no one wandered off during the discipline, one, two, three, four, five, six. All accounted for.
Right about then Wife comes back with the eggs and yogurt. She observes the tearful faces and rounds on the children without missing a beat. “What did you kids do?”
“They are not doing what I want them to be doing!” I said loud enough for the old lady three aisles over to hear. Meanwhile #4 is making her way over to the cereal aisle.
“It’s ok, I think we have everything,” Wife says with understanding. “Let’s start for the check-out.”
I am in full agreement. Now let’s see, two in the basket, one looking as the cheese, one by the cart, one holding Wife’s hand, and one on her way to the cereal isle and certain death by my hands.
The children do not have any idea how many times counting has saved them from a life time of wandering the super market, or camping between pews at church. Counting has become a compulsive behavior with me. I count heads going into the car, and just to make sure none got lost on the drive, or in the seats, I count them as they pile out of the car. Even now, one, two, three… four…… five………… where is six?