Call me Captain Mom and find my whistle

Moms of Stillwater
Moms of Stillwater

I wonder if Maria Von Trapp from “The Sound of Music” ever regretted putting away that whistle?
Remember, Captain George’s penny whistle that paired each one of his children to a separate musical note? Creative genius, in my opinion.
I mean, I know those curtain play clothes really transformed his surly bunch into a well-oiled, well-behaved singing machine, but I think the whistle itself may have been prematurely overlooked.
Friedrich alone would have made me take a second look. Any child who sneaks up the trellis with a jar full of spiders and frogs needs a short leash. I say this out of experience; I too, have a “Friedrich” in my own troop and I pretty much assume during some point of the day, I will meet a new amphibian or insect unannounced.
Preferably not in the washing machine when I open the door.
Or in my shoe.
Or in my make-up drawer.
But of course, an 8-year-old boy knows the value of a surprise attack on his mother and has mastered the skills of booby trapping common household nooks. A shrieking mom is worth a timeout any day. I have learned the hard way that timeouts for a young boy translates into quiet plotting. I’d rather not enable him.
So, I myself would welcome the whistle.
Tweet. Tweet. Tweet. Tweet. I’m embarrassed by how much joy I would get to see the four of them line up. Stand at attention, waiting to hear the daily itinerary. Maybe even in matching sailor suits.
That is, if it worked. I’m sure it would sound better than my current method of barking orders out of kitchen windows and watching them scatter like laughing hyenas. With my luck, I’d buy a dog whistle and instead of calling all the kids in for lunch, I’d be mauled by the local rottweilers that guard the neighborhood. OK, it might look more like a gang of cockapoos, but still, the last thing we need is more poop to step over.
Maybe it was the magic playclothes that unified the Von Trapps. I’m afraid I would lose on this front too. Between my poor sewing skills and pathetic sheers, my children would look like a side dish of stuffed veggie rolls. See-through rice paper with little unidentifiables squashed underneath. Sloppy mummies. Maybe uncommitted nudists. No matter, my drapes simply weren’t made for tree climbing and canoeing.
No, if I want to create some team mentality in my children, I had better not start with public embarrassment. I’m not sure shared misery is the camraderie I’m searching for at home. Those people sometime stage coups.
Teamwork. This is the golden ideal that a mother of four strives for while spending her day chauffeuring her children to and from activities in a minivan. Not kidding. Not glamorous, but not kidding.
Those repetitive miles around town can be therapeutic (after you get over the suspicious smell from the backseat and the littering of old socks and cleats). How grand life would be if we all learned to work hard together and play hard together. Embrace each other as fellow teammates and strive towards common goals.
All sorts of Nike marketing has filtered into my mommy fantasies and I’ll admit, if not brocade play clothes, I do sometimes daydream about color coding our family teammates. It’s not accidental that my own 8-year-old “Friedrich” has been wearing a neon hat for three years. He’s simply easier to track in crowds, ponds, sewer wells, neighbor rooftops, etc.
Truth be told, the resurgence of 1980s fashion is really cramping my ability to quickly spot his whereabouts; he could be anywhere in that sea of neon tank tops at Summer Tuesdays.
Yes, I think a whistle could be a grand idea. Of course, it would have to also spit out candy and Gatorade if I wanted it to work.
Oh, or until sabotaged with a Frank’s hot sauce. Or superglue. Or bait.
I’m on to you, Friedrich.

Marny Stebbins lives in Stillwater with her husband and four children. She is a stout believer in early bedtimes, caffeine enhancement and humor therapy. She never takes the last slice of pie and makes a mean brandy slush. Visit Chronicles of a CaveMom ( ) to read more of Marny’s work.