Visiting with my good friends recently, their ten-year-old daughter (who refers to me as Aunt Bridie) overheard me talking about some work matters, decisions that I would have to be making, and one particular issue that had become such a thorn in my side I was considering making a final, possibly rash, decision and just ending the whole thing once and for all.
She listened intently to the adults debating the topic, and then said, “Well Aunt Bridie, why don’t you make a list?”
I turned my attention, and asked her to explain what she meant. She headed off to her room and a few minutes later returned with paper and pencil. She sat facing me at the dining room table and said, “Well you see Aunt Bridie, when I have to make a big decision, I make a list of all the good things about it and all the bad things about it.” She then drew what looked like a lower case t on her page. On the top left she wrote “Do it” and on the other, “Don’t do it.”
Interview style, she proceeded to ask me to tell her all the reasons I would “go one way” on this issue, and all the reasons I would “go the other.” I listed all the pros and cons, which she furiously wrote down. When I had exhausted every last point that I could possibly think of, the results were tallied.
It was a tie.
Very interested to see what this would trigger in her ten-year-old mind, I simply waited. A recount was done, and it was confirmed that yes, it was in fact a tie. Again, I waited. She sat tapping the eraser of her pencil on her bottom lip and thinking. Finally, after about a minute, she said, “Well, I guess this means you have to give it some more thought”.
“Yes. You got a tie which means you haven’t thought about it enough.”
Using her fingers to make air-bunnies, she went on to explain that to “decide” something, you have to “kill off” one option. The root word of decide is “cide” which is the same as suicide and homicide.
“That’s fascinating! Who taught you that?”
“You did Aunt Bridie.”
I waited to hear more. She went on to explain that, “a long time ago, like when she was maybe eight,” I had told her about the Latin root of decide. She had to make a decision about continuing her flute lessons or quitting and that’s when she started making lists. She showed me several of her other lists which covered everything from which friends to sit with at lunch, whether she should talk to a cute boy in her class, and whether she should do he homework on Friday night –vs–Sunday morning.
I admitted that I honestly didn’t recall our flute discussion, but I appreciated the guidance she had given me regarding my work matter and agreed that maybe I did need to give it more consideration.
“Well, of course you need to consider it more Aunt Bridie. You got a tie. If you don’t think about it more you could decide the wrong thing!”
Another good point.
Before leaving, she handed me my pro/con list and then said in her very preteen-matter-of-fact tone,
“And you know one other thing to remember about making a decision, Aunt Bridie?”
“What’s that sweetheart?”
“You can always do it, but you can never undo it.”
Ten-year-old words to live by.