Here are some of the theories I had as a kid: Pink, red, and purple were girl colors, but, in a pinch, orange could be subbed in with only a few complaints. Yellow was a bridge too far. 2 and 5 were girl numbers. Sometimes, zero would suffice, though. (I think it had something to do with the curves, but, if that was the case, what did I have against 9?) If a leotard wasn't readily available, a swimming suit would do.
I'm glad that I've held onto these thought processes since I think it has saved me from many disasters with my kids. When I'm setting the table, and I find out all the blue, green, red, pink, and purple cups are dirty, I have to make quick calculations. If I only have yellow and orange cups, I know to give the orange to Darla and the yellow to Jude. I don't do this because I believe girls should have pink things and boys should have blue things. (These are beliefs my kids developed just by living in this world that genders everything. It was beyond my control). I do this because my kids are going to have an idea of what color cup they want and I know one (or both) of them will have a shit fit if I got it wrong.
There are limitations to my foresight, though. Sometimes I'm only half paying attention, and I allow terrible things to happen.
A few days ago, we bought Jude and Darla styrofoam airplanes to replace the ones they had destroyed a few weeks earlier when they took out the weighted metal balls from the front that helped the planes glide. Jude pulled the piece off the top of his new aircraft, which held the metal ball. He looked at the identical part from the old plane.
"Daddy, will you take the metal ball out?" Jude said. Greg and I exchanged a "wtf?" look.
"I'm not taking that out," Greg said. "The whole reason we bought you the new plane was because you took the metal balls out."
"But I want to put the metal ball in this one," Jude said and immediately started to cry.
"Fine," Greg said as he took both pieces from Jude. He turned his back and pretended to put the ball in the old piece. "There you go."
Jude took the parts from his dad. He looked from one to the other. His head went back and forth as he studied them.
"Daddy," he cried. "You put the ball in the wrong one."
I took the piece from him, confused as to what difference he saw between these two identical pieces. The number "15" was embossed on the old one. When I saw that the new one had a number "1" on it, I got it. While being first is preferable, and is even something that has led to numerous, jealous fights between my kids, higher numbers are always going to trump "1."
"What if I added a few numbers to the "1"?" I asked. "What number do you want."
"001," said Jude through his tears.
I knew he meant 100, so I added that. He looked at my addition, placed the piece back on the plane, and glided it across the room.