First is just first - FamilyEducation

First is just first

March 10,2010
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

L. came home with a rhyme last month--something he picked up from school, although he couldn't say where. It goes something like this: First is the worst second is the best third is the one who gets the treasure chest fourth is more fifth is just fine... and I can't remember the rest of it. The first time we heard it, T. had raced to the table first for dinner when called and L., who was holed up in the office on the computer, had been dead last, as usual. "I got my plate first!" she announced proudly, in a smug and happy sort of way. "Oh yeah?" L. countered, and then he pulled out the rhyme. I commend the sentiment behind the rhyme, that coming in first isn't all that, really (although it certainly isn't the worst), and being fourth of fifth is just dandy, too. But since that night the race to the dinner table has bordered on the absurd. L. changes the rhyme to suit him, too, so on the nights when he does manage to come in first, the rhyme goes something like this: First is the BEST, second is the worst third is the one... We've been struggling with this maddening race to the table almost every night now for a month. It's extra absurd because in all his life L. has never raced to the dinner table, ever. In fact, it usually takes our combined efforts to pry him off the computer. But, amazingly, as soon as the element of competition was introduced to the process all he has to do is hear T. say "I'm going to get my dinner first," and he's out of the office like lightning. ********* Last night, as Scott and I sat grading, side-by-side on the couch, in front of Lost. I finished up the last midterm exam for that class and, with a relieved sigh, set the stack down on the coffee table in front of me. Scott looked up from his pile. "Are you done already?" he asked. "Yup," I said. We looked at each other. I smiled. "First is the best, second is just fine..."