When the kids were younger we used to play a game to help them remember pertinent information–you know if they were ever lost and needed to tell someone where they lived (nevermind the argument of never talking to strangers). Our game took place at our local park and involved the kids want to go down the slide. Sitting atop the structure was I-the Ogre of the Slide and I would drill them on such questions as “What’s your street address?” or “What is your telephone number?” If they could recite the information back to me correctly I would let them pass. If not, they would be subjected to endless tickles from the Ogre, until they could do so. Once the kids were in school and the information came across as rote memory, I retired the Ogre, moving onto different ways to teach the children new information.
That is, until this past Saturday….
The boy ambled into the kitchen looking for some junk food snackage but I blocked his path. “Mama, what the ?” He said as he tried to work his way around me. “Not until you answer me a question…” I said in my best Ogre sounding voice. The doll who was seated at the kitchen table began to laugh, amused by my actions. The boy on the other hand sighed deeply and said “What…” “What is the address where you live?” The Ogre asked. Giving me an odd look, mixed with a curling lip of amusement, he replied, “1313 Mockingbird Lane”. “Very good!” I said, taking a step to the side to open up his path. “Now tell me your zip code” the Ogre asked. “Why?” the boy said, turning sideways and making his way past me. “Come on, tell me your zip code…” I said, no longer using the ogre voice. “I don’t know what our zip code is….” He replied. Upon hearing his reply, his sister said, “I know, its 12345”. In my best Ogre voice I said, “Very good little girl, a cookie can be yours…” “That’s not fair!” the boy said. “She answered the question and how is it you don’t remember the zip code?” I asked. “I did answer your original question and knowing the zip code is one of those mundane things which are unimportant, like bird food.”
“Bird food…you know birds’ll eat just about anything you throw out there, so its irrelevant what ingredients constitute “bird” food.” He explained. “What does bird food have to do with knowing your zip code?” I asked still confused. “Zip codes are unnecessary to remember, primarily because when you put in the address and our city into any computer, the zip code should automatically come up.” “Can you prove this?” I asked him skeptically. “Yeah, just do a reverse address look-up”. “What if you don’t have a computer handy?” I asked, still trying to make my point. “Mom, seriously….?” “Could it hurt you to just tell me the zip code…for old times sake?” I asked, deflated by this conversation. “Fine 12345. Happy now?” “No…but it will have to do.”