When we had five young children ages 6-1, my husband came up with an ingenious solution to make sure we had everyone gathered up before we went/left anywhere. It all started at Park Day, where several large homeschooling families would get together on a Friday to end up the week. We had to watch closely because there were no fences around the playground, and younger children would often follow their younger siblings into the woods (palmetto scrub) to play medieval knights, stormtroopers, or whatever. Our little 2-year-old Sam would wander off to the basketball court and try to grab a ball to play with. He was, and is, an avid explorer.
Daddy used his Navy background to an advantage. He taught the children to “Sound off!” Whenever Mommy or Daddy said this, the children were to say their name, in birth order, starting with the oldest. So we would hear, “Tabi, JD, Debi, Sam!” when it was correctly done. Nat, the baby, was exempt…
It came in so handy many times! Too many times, though, when we were at the park, the exchange would sound like this:
Daddy: “Sound off!”
Mommy and Daddy: “SAM?!?!?”
Sam was just SO accomplished at quietly walking off right when we would start loading the van, or when Mom would have to urge another child to hurry up…
Now we have 9 children, and we still use this regularly. It even works when they’re scattered across the yard to pin down their locations. When we’re in an informal situation, and new acquaintances joke about whether or not we remember our children’s names, we sound off! It’s also fun for attention drills. “Sound off, backwards birth order!” (Youngest to oldest – that always trips them up.) “SOUND OFF!!!” (Daddy yells, the children yell – VERY LOUDLY!) We use different voices – sing-song, country hillbilly, football player, robot. Many times a younger child will say someone else’s name for them because they’re just used to hearing the whole list. Sometimes we’ll have to practice five times in a row to get it right.
We had once sound-off experience we till tell stories about that included our dog, Thunder. A few years ago when we had 7 children who could sound off, we were all seated around a winter campfire with some friends. Daddy called for everyone to sound off, and this was the result: “Tabi, JD, Debi, Sam, Nate, Beth, Esther, WOOF!” Thunder sounded off right at the end, perfectly in time. It was a one-time, hilarious moment! I think the poor dog slinked away the next moment because the outburst of laughter scared him.
Having a fun way to keep my children “in line” works for me!
Works For Me Wednesday