Friday, November 15, 2013

How to Teach Decision Making

My sister Brooke and I, somewhere around 1993, I think.

When kids are little, they don't know what a decision is or how to make one. Whatever's in front of them at the moment defines their existence - and it's usually either the best thing in the world or the worst.

My little sister Brooke was no exception. Like all kids, there were some things that she knew for certain that she liked (the color red). There were some that she knew she didn't (me not hanging out with her, because let's face it, I'm awesome). But most everything else in her life was without preference.

I noticed this in particular one hot summer when we begged for popsicles and were allowed to choose what we wanted. It was one of those multi-flavor boxes, and most had been eaten already. The only ones left were cherry and grape, red and purple.

I unwrapped them and held them out before her. "Do you want red or purple?" I asked.

"Purple!" she exclaimed.

But I'd been down that street before, so I asked her again. "Do you want purple or red?"


Being only about eight or nine myself, I didn't get why she wouldn't decide, other than maybe she didn't know how. So I decided to explain it to her.

"No, you're just saying the last one I said. You have to pick which one you like better."

In explaining this to her, I created a monster.

This singular popsicle debacle (and others like it, I'm sure) created an opinionated young woman. She knows what she likes and doesn't like, and she'll tell you in a heartbeat if she thinks you're wrong. She's passionate about pretty much everything in life, one way or another.

"Try again. Which color do you want?"

"Um ... red!"*

*Note: This is not how the story actually ended. This is a lying device called "poetic license." It sounds better to end the story like that than to say that Brooke continued to ask for the last color that I'd said until I gave up and just gave her the one I didn't want. Because that's how sisters work sometimes.

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