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The magic red rock

The boys were getting on my nerves the other day with
their bickering. If the nine-year old wasn’t teasing,
then the three-year old was giving it back as good as
he got. Suddenly, I blurted out something that my
grandmother would have said.
“I have a special job for you,” I said to the
three-year old. “Go out in the backyard and find me a
red rock.”

Immediately, he brightened, abandoned the warrior
stance he’d taken with his brother and happily skipped
out the back door in search of a red rock.

“What do you need a red rock for?” the nine-year old
asked, with just a hint of suspicion. I was sure he
would see right through my feeble plan and spoil it.
So I hedged.

“Well, I’d really like a red rock for my
collection…” (I don’t have one — yet.)

“Can I help find one?” he asked, suddenly filled with
enthusiasm and not the least bit wise to my
intentions. Out he went to help his brother find the
elusive and rare red rock.

They brought me orange rocks, yellow rocks, speckled
rocks and one little stone with red rust on it, but
still the special red rock that Momma wanted could not
be found. Eagerly, they worked together, searched as
a team and ran back and forth from one find to
another, reporting their progress with each new

“Is this a red rock?” the three-year old asked, when
he presented another imposter.

“No, I’m afraid not. The red rock is magic, so you
have to look very hard for it.”

“It is!” the nine-year old chimed in and off they went
spinning the tale of the red rock and its special
powers until the legend became greater than the rock
itself ¦which, by the way, was never found. After a
while the boys lost interest and were too busy playing
together and having fun to care whether or not they
ever found that red rock.

Did I lie? Of course not. That magic red rock turned
two bickering, testy children into the best of friends
for the rest of the afternoon. Any parent will tell
you that that’s no easy trick — it has to be magic. My
Grandma was pretty wise.

It’s funny how an unexpected simple thing can turn a
bad moment around. I was thinking that very thing
when my husband walked in the door, tripped over a toy
and barely stifled a sharp retort when I told him that
I’d had a busy day to excuse the state of the house.

“What were you doing?”

“Looking for this magic red rock…”


“YES. It shuts kids up.”

He brightened and asked, enthusiastically, “Can I help
look, too?”


Sometimes it works on husbands, too.

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