Last Saturday I took the whole brood of Nodlings to Costco for a little bulk food shopping.
We had our little train going with Nub and Dab in separate shopping carts (so they didn't poke each other en route); Wynken drove one while I drove the other with my waif-like Nib riding shotgun in the basket and the other girls trailing behind. It always amuses me to watch people goggle at our miniature horde. (Yes, they're all mine. Yes, I know what causes that. If you're good at something you have to stick with it.)
I sent Blynken and Nod-girl off to search for granola bars while we perused the clothing section. After 10 minutes or so I started whistling for them to return, figuring they had gotten lost and didn't know exactly where we were.
I know what you're thinking: Whistling for children? Isn't that rather Sound-of-Music-ish creepiness?
Listen, I grew up in a neighborhood where our friends lived a couple of blocks over and we were allowed to go play with them once our homework was done. This frequently ran up to dinner time when it was just starting to get dark. Since we were playing in one of a dozen front or back yards or in the woods, it wasn't like my parents could just call up on the phone and tell them to send Johnny home. And it was definitely too far to holler.
My Dad has a piercing whistle that he can do using his tongue that carries for several blocks. (My brothers have learned how to do this, but I can't quite manage it, so I use two fingers.) Dad grew up in a time where kids were even more free-range and everybody whistled for their kids. Every family had their own pattern, so you knew who was being whistled for.
Here in Northern Virginia that is probably considered tres gauche, or tacky, but I don't care one bit. When we heard our Dad whistle, we immediately headed for home: I gotta go, my Dad's calling me. (How do you know?) Didn't you hear the whistle? That means: come now. (Wow that's cool. I wish my Dad could do that.)
We have three flights of stairs in our house (ok, ok, they're half-flights of stairs) and it just doesn't pay to wear out your voice calling for some Nodling who has their head buried in a book with the door closed. So frequently, I'll whistle to get their attention, then call out the name of the Nodling I need. Works like a charm and it saves my throat.
So this time when I whistled for my little lost Nodlings in the store, I got a little more than I had bargained for. My brother showed up with his four girls in a shopping cart. "I heard you whistle, so I figured we'd come."
We had a good laugh and celebrated immediately thereafter with big giant scoops of ice cream for everybody. Par-tay! Again, people kind of stared at 10 kids running around the tables with ice cream dripping from their faces, but once again I didn't care. This is family. This is how we roll.