The Dangling Red Cord of Eternal Temptation

When we got our minivan, the boys were delighted. So much room! And the doors slide open! No more banging the car door into adjacent vehicles! No more yelling “Boys, be careful when you open your doors! Don’t slam your doors into other people’s cars!” Automobile owners everywhere rejoiced.

But a new problem emerged . . . specifically, when I pull into the garage and Matthew slides open his door, he is staring directly at the red manual disconnect cord which dangles from the garage door motor. It’s just inches from his face. When we first pulled in the garage and he noticed the cord, he asked what it was. I admit I was being lazy; I was tired. I didn’t want to answer a million questions about how the cord would disconnect the motor and how garage door openers work, so I very quickly told him very bad things would happen if he touched it. Touch not the cord. Bad bad things happen. It’s red, right? Don’t touch red things. Red means danger.

This worked for several weeks. Frequently, he would ask about the cord and all I had to say was “bad things, Matt, bad things” and he would quickly withdraw his eager little hand from the cord. But I could see that this explanation was quickly getting old and he wasn’t buying it anymore.

A few days ago, I pulled into the garage after picking Matthew up from daycare. He threw open the minivan door, and before I knew it, grabbed the red cord and gave it a healthy tug. I had no idea what was going on; I was getting out of the van and heard a loud rumble as the garage door rolled down its track and slammed shut. I thought the roof was caving in.

Matthew’s eyes were huge. Maybe I should have told him that the door would slam shut and it would be loud. That would have been a better explanation and wouldn’t have stoked the fires of curiosity. Fortunately, the disengage feature can easily be re-engaged, although our garage door is really heavy. This time, I made a point of explaining exactly what happened when we deployed the red cord, and Matthew now understands how the red cord works and why Mama will be ever so mad if he pulls it again. He still looks at it with great longing every time he gets out of the van. It will taunt him for years to come, but maybe now he can resist the temptation of pulling the red cord.

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2 Responses

  1. You know, of course, that had you told him the door would slam down and make a lot of noise . . . he would have done at some point anyway. Speaking from experience, boys often need to find these things out for themselves. Tell us all you want, repeat it until we mouth the words along with you, we’re still going to grab that little red cord and give it a tug just to find out what’ll happen!

  2. I think that your red cord is right up there with the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was inevitable for Matthew because of original sin.

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