“The shortest distance between two points is three points.”

February 8, 2013

Notable Stats

Ping Pong Vector (PPV) – A measure of how many times your child changes direction when they were supposed to go straight.

Itchy Ants Pants Factor (IAPF) – The time it takes for your child to get out of his or her chair after he or she just sat in it. (measured in micro-seconds)

I suppose since I played in the major leagues, I am inherently competitive, although when I see someone making history that would trump my accomplishments, I am all for it. During my career, I ended with a streak of 293 games without making an error. I am proud of it. And now, my four-year-old son has broken my streak and I am torn about whether I should burst with pride or pull the hair out of my head.

By now you may be wondering… Four years old is pretty early entry into the big leagues.

I concede that it is only an estimate, but my son has now entered our mini-van 294 times in a row. And he has done so without ever going directly into his car seat.

That is right, he has yet to go straight to his seat, buckle up, and get ready for the ride. Yes, he is only four and has a lot on his mind, but I thought by now, he would stumble into breaking his streak by sitting down, no stops. He has not.

So during his streak, he has made many pit stops before reaching his seat. Most often, to sit in his sister’s designated seat to rile her up. He also loves to detour to his baby sister’s seat who is helpless since she faces the rear and is looking up at the ceiling. Easy target.

Routine is a big part of it all. Doing rituals and performing tasks that require no thought over time, but allow expectations to be met and systems to be put in place. But there are times when you establish a daily habit that isn’t so desirable. It is done because it happened a few times in a row and it is just what we now do. The dog gets a treat when he sits on his hind legs, and soon, it is just an expected end-result, not a reward.

As a parent, you hope these repeated events do not involve tying your capable eleven year old’s shoes or carrying his lunch bag when his arms are “scroggily.” You hope it is more about his brushing his teeth after every meal or her clearing her place after she eats. It can be done, but you have to stay on it otherwise you will start counting up to 294 in its absence.

Of course, when you are on the run as all parents seem to be, you let stuff slide, you realize it is faster for you to buckle him up than to wait for him to do what you know he can do. Then, he begins to count on it, count on your impatience just like a pitcher like the Atlanta Braves Tom Glavine would do to you as a hitter. He would get you to chase bad pitches because you simply couldn’t wait anymore.

Despite being unaware of time itself (at age three or four), children have a remarkable sense of stalling for time. They are impatient, but can outwait you. They can’t read a clock, but can tell you the next step in the recipe for blueberry cobbler.

And so we endure the constant wrestling with time. The rush to the doctor’s appointment, sandwiched between the gymnastics class, sprinkled with the pick-up from school. Meanwhile, streaks are made and broken, reset and transferred. I try not to keep track of the numbers for the preservation of my own history, but when the next generation makes their own, you have to stop and take note. Even when they have yet to get in their car seat.

So let’s toast 293. Let’s toast the hot hand. But let’s also keep perspective since some streaks are made to be broken, or they are made to help your realize that it is your job to make them stop as soon as possible.

- Doug Glanville

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