Minnesota Mamaleh: About Threes

Impossibly golden

One: 4:30PM

Kayli, all decked out in her cute-as-a-button soccer gear runs outside to report, “The hot dogs smell gross!!”

I step inside, sniff deeply (and in retrospect kind of stupidly) and realize that why yes, yes they do smell gross. Like gas leak gross. Jason is still an hour or so away. Which makes me the ADULT at home.

So I ask my neighbors to check things out for us.

They promptly tell us to step away from the house. We call the gas company and they, too, tell us to step away from the house. They also add no hanging up the phone, starting our car, using our cell phones or doing anything else that could result in a spark. And that someone would be right over to “check things out.”

Hours and hours and hours later we’ve missed soccer. It’s beyond bedtime for all of us. The kids had a great time playing with their friends and ask if they could “do it all again tomorrow.” And importantly, we’re the proud owners of a brand new regulator. Hooray!

Nowhere near enough hours later…

Two: 11:30 AM

Lovely AAA Lady: Ma’am, I’m sorry. I can’t quite hear you.

Me: I let my kids mumblemumblemumble play in the car mumblemumble this morning and now my car won’t start. mumble It’s making a click-clock-clickety-clock sound.

LAAAL: Just to make sure that I understand, you let your kids play in the car and now the car won’t start but is making a clicking sound?

Me: Yes.

My Kids: General loudness and mayhem ensues. Totally and completely proving that I am most definitely not watching them. Although good news! They’re not in the car! mumblemumble

LAAAL: Ma’am, this happens all the time!

Me: It does?

LAAAL: Yes, it does. Now ma’am, do you have AAA?

Me: I don’t know.

My kids: Same as above. Point proven. Above and beyond.

LAAAL: Question asking-clicking-typing-but definitely NOT click-clock-clickety-clocking. Yes, yes you do have AAA.

All of us: Thankful halleluyah-style that there is a Jason who knows about clicking sounds and who thinks of things like AAA for his wife who lets her kids play in the car and, for the record, has made it through thirty-some-odd years blissfully unaware of clicking sounds.

LAAAL: Asking all sorts of questions that we all wish Jason was here to answer. Make? Model? Color? (Don’t worry, I knew that one.) Ma’am, someone will be there within 45 minutes to fix the clicking sound.

Me: Hmm, it’s just that I wanted to go meet my 1st grader for lunch today. mumblemumble And she’s expecting us. I don’t want to just not show up. We were on our way to McDonalds to pick up lunch when, you know, the car wouldn’t start. It was just clicking. (I can be taught.) Can the magical fix-it guy come after lunch? mumble

LAAAL: Still nice and patient and well, lovely. Ma’am, just call us after lunch.

And now we are the proud new owners of a new regulator and a car battery. Hooray!

And Three: *Crickets Chirping*

A week later we’re outside on an impossibly golden October afternoon. The kids are “raking” leaves. I use that term oh-so-very-loosely. And on my mind? Is what’s next? Is that rake too sharp? The steps too slippery? That hiding spot too good?

Why so negative you ask? Isn’t it obvious? Things tend to happen in threes. Three kids, three goods, three bads, three deaths, three births. Things. Come. In. Threes. And while I’m still reeling in the awful, scary possibilities and whatifs of the past week, I’m peaking around the corner waiting for that third “thing” to show up and make me give. I’ll let you know when it does.

Careful planner, predictor and see-er of what’s coming soon? Um, clearly not. (See above.)

More like, knock on wood (“touchwood” to some of you) doing, tfootfootfoo saying, sidewalk-crack side-stepping, superstitious. I’ve collected my superstitions along the years from lovely friends and acquaintances, books, movies and TV shows. Anywhere, really. And I hold onto them. Fiercely.

I pull my earlobe when I sneeze. I don’t even know why I do that one. I never (ever!) split paths when walking with a loved one. I also never (ever!) pass a knife hand-to-hand. My college roommate (Hi Nina!) taught me that both of those acts would cause rifts or fights. Salt over the shoulder, walk around the ladder, hooray for four leaf clovers and for the love of God, careful around a mirror!

Mmhmm, turns out I’m superstitious. These little things that I do are habit and routine, for sure. But I kind of like them. They’re mine, kooky quirks and all.

So now you know. I believe that things happen in threes. I absentmindedly do things like knocking on wood and pulling my earlobe. And yes, I let my kids play in the car. Tfootfootfoo.

Your turn. Superstitions? Things that come in threes? General kookiness? Ready, set, go!


About Galit Breen

Galit Breen was a classroom and reading teacher for ten years. She has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in human development. In 2009, she launched a career as a freelance writer entrenched in social media. Since then, her work has been featured in various online magazines including Brain, Child, The Huffington Post, TIME, and xoJane. Breen lives in Minnesota with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously spoiled miniature golden doodle. Her book, Kindness Wins, is a simple no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online. You can learn more about Galit by visiting TheseLittleWaves.com.

Comments. Add Yours!


  1. I throw salt over my shoulder all the time, even in restaurants, and my husband is afraid I’ll put someone’s eye out with it. I don’t walk under ladders. I knock on wood. I avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk.

  2. OK, so not to be a bitch, but you *really shouldn’t* let your kids play in the car. I’ve argued this one myself, but finally got forwarded enough horror-stories of kids rolling down the street, getting dragged, getting locked in the trunk/caught in the door, etc.

    And the third bad thing? Maybe it already happened before you started counting, right?

  3. We all have our little quirks…it’s human, it’s life. Not to worry.

    Shabbat Shalom! Shabbat Shalom! Shabbat Shalom!

  4. I have my Superstitious Rituals, too…And they are Habits, as well. Some things just become automatic because they just do….lol! Knock on wood!
    These were great examples of things happening in three’s, though a little too much time went by before that third one to my Supersitious way of thinking….
    In the Theatre there are a number of special Superstions, Like—NO Whistling in the Dressing Room—Very Bad Luck, and you NEVER mention ‘The Scottish Play’, by William Shakespeare, by name—the one that begins with “M”….THAT could be disasterous luck….New things for you to worry about, my dear. (lol)

  5. Just for the record, knocking on wood is a CHRISTIAN thing, relating to knocking on the cross of Jesus Christ. To knock on wood is NOT a Jewish tradition in the least. There are plenty of other bubba meisas to use, but to knock on wood is rather the wrong way to go.

  6. Not to be a bitch, but if you do not know if you have AAA or not is about as clueless (ignorant) as you can get.

  7. “Tfootfootfoo” – I never heard of that one. It certainly sounds more compact than my father’s “Conahora, conahora, conahora, tset tset tset.”

    When I was a kid we listened to a Burl Ives song that said, “When you walk the streets you’ll have no cares if you walk the lines and not the squares. As you go through life make this your goal: Watch the donut, not the hole.” It sounded like good advice to me, so I used to walk on the lines. It confused me the first time a friend told me to avoid the lines.

    Plus, not walking under a ladder actually makes sense, since you never know when the person up top might fall or drop a hammer or something.

  8. “These things seem to come in threes” My Henry’s neurologist said the same thing about CP.

    We do silly little things to ward off bad luck, like tap the ceiling in the car when we go through a light that turns yellow while we’re under it!

    I hope your ‘3rd’ is nothing more than a hiccup!

    Come to think of it… we had the rule of three with our van this week… a crazy belt, a thermostat, and a battery! Good grief!

  9. One day, the car broke down on the freeway. I rolled it down the sliproad and managed to park it to the side. Then I found out I had no cards or money or ID, none at all. I’d just come back from Europe and hadn’t put everything back in my purse. My cellphone was dead (as usual – battery charging was never my thing.) I found one of those side of the road phones but in my panic, I pressed the hard of hearing button and had do the rest of the call tapping everything out on the phone pad. Took *hours.* Plus the tow-truck driver arrived expecting to deal with a deaf person.

    My point of the story is this. We often don’t learn our lessons until we learn them. You now know you have AAA, you now know the kids may drain the battery – they’ll also leave the doors open and that drains the battery too, trust me on that one. I know to charge my cellphone and put all my cards back in my purse immediately I return home from a trip. We all move forward. Such is life.

  10. Cue Joan Armatrading: I’m lucky, I’m lucky, I’m lucky I can walk under ladders…

    I am smiling (glad all is actually well, a big believer in “raking” leading perhaps someday to raking sans quotes & I’m sure kids don’t belong in cars but sometimes mine go there too–that said my then four year old now twelve totally damaged as in needed to be towed away a rental truck his English godfather allowed him to play in).

  11. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

    I knock on wood – ALL the time. More than I am comfortable with saying. 🙂 Here’s hoping your three doesn’t come.

    And I had to look up the sneezing and pulling on earlobe. I found a site that explained it Popular Superstitions. Very interesting.

  12. Steve – It is actually a very well known fact that “Knock on Wood” pre-dates Christianity and while the true meaning/origin has never been fully agreed upon, the most widely accepted origin relates to the fact that many early cultures – throughout the world – practiced tree worship in some form or context.

    AND had the author actually stated that “Knock on Wood” has a Jewish connection (which she didn’t) she actually would have had a point since in the 15th Century during the Spanish Inquisition, persecuted Jews utilized a coded knock to enter synagogues, which were made of wood. Given that this practice saved countless lives, it became common to knock on wood to bring good luck.

    For more information on the origins of this phrase, go here:

  13. @Steve I can’t imagine why you would choose to be so rude in this forum. Galit is sharing interesting and personal experiences and you take it upon yourself to make critical ad hominem attacks.

    Shame on you.

    Is this the type of behavior that would make your mother proud? I doubt it. I find your inability to understand what is, and is not, appropriate to be most ignorant (clueless).

  14. No one wants to be a frier nor are they readily willing to admit that they could be. So I won’t say that I have any superstitions. Everything I do is based upon sound logic.

    And now if you will excuse me I have to go change into my lucky shorts.

  15. Wow, you pull your earlobe when you sneeze? How do you act so quickly? I sneeze to last minute to plan ahead!!

    My husband refuses to cut his nails after dark. Go figure. I think his superstitions are born out of laziness.

  16. Threes? My life lately feels like multiples of three. 4 deaths of friends’ parents this month. Another 2 have lost parents in the past half year and another has a parent dying. It has been a sucky year. (and the not so important things-3 faucets, backed up sewage, microwave busted, light switch needed replacing, car broke down) ….

  17. I used to be more superstitious than I am now. I use to count the threes too. Now I forget to count. LOL

  18. I hear you about things happening in threes — but mostly related to celebrity deaths.

    I’m sure our AAA people would have just hung up on me.

    And YIKES about the gas leak!

  19. I’m so with you – I don’t know when/why/how I became superstitious but I am and I don’t mind it much. No hats on the bed. Throwing salt. Touching the roof of the car when I go through a yellow light or see a car with one headlight. Never knit a sweater for a boyfriend… there are just so many. I say it makes day to day life more fun!

  20. You must be my sister from another mister. I’m a huge believer in the Evil Eye and take all possible measures to avoid waking it up. But as you know from my blog, man plans and God laughs. I think He and the EE get together sometimes for some stress-busting mischief.

    May this be the worst that happens to you, and you can spit on me anytime~

  21. It’s true. All the stuff happens in threes. We can bet on it! I think it’s because we watch for it, anticipate it and seriously, even if we don’t notice it, it’s going to happen.
    We humans are counters from way back. I don’t know how the ‘threes’ thing started, but any number could be applied, don’t you think? It’s life and YAY!, as long as we are ticking, we’ll be counting…LOL, I am rambling this morning aren’t I? 🙂

    Oh, and since I’m rambling…
    When I read your post, it never once crossed my mind that you had let your littles just run amok and take over the car. I think anyone that knows you, dear Galit, would know that would never, ever happen. I mean, Hello? Like you just handed them the keys and let them go play in the street…I’m laughing here.

    And? Hugs to Rick. My husband takes care of business. And that entails the bill paying and whatnot. So, do we have AAA? I dunno. We did at one time, (we still have the sticker on the car)I’m checking…nope. We switched to Nationwide roadside Assistance. Big deal, right? 😀

    P.S. Any time that I knock over the salt, I get nervous because I can never remember which shoulder to toss the salt over and I contemplate whether or not I’ll make things ‘worse’ when I try to follow through with the counter-measure. HAHA, talk about superstitious!!

  22. So yeah, it’s me again!
    I wanted to add that when I can’t find wood to knock on, I just use my head…doesn’t everyone do that? LOL.

    Also, when we drive under bridges we put our hands up to the roof and say ‘high anxiety’…I dunno why? It started when my sibs and I were kids and I just carried it over. Silly, but true.

  23. Ah Steve, well I finally have a chance to weigh in on your grossly inappropriate comments. Aside from sharing inaccurate information, your smugness was palpable. I could practically hear you patting yourself on the back. And for what? Being rude on a blog?

    Know that there are plenty of ways to build self esteem but to hurl meaningless insults is “the wrong way to go”.

  24. Love how this one was written Galit! Especially the conversation between you and the LAAAL. 🙂 Too funny–this I can say now that the situation has passed and your car is fixed!
    And Christine–loved your comments! The thought of Galit actually letting her kiddos “play” in the car made me giggle too.

  25. I knock on wood but that is about it. Great post by the way. I hope the 3rd is mild.

  26. Galit, too funny! Thank goodness you have such a great sense of humor, otherwise I think all this drama would make you rip your hair out. Wow! Great blog!

  27. aaaand three! our washing machine broke down yesterday. as in puddles-on-the-floor broke down. *sigh* i’m secretly relieved. we should be done for awhile now! xoxo to (almost!) all of you! 🙂

  28. Thanks for stopping by. Things that come in 3’s, children:) Deaths? Superstitions, hmmm, no umbrellas opened in the house, no broken mirrors,no stepping on cracks, no black cats in path, etc,etc. I could probably go on for days, so thank God for all the remedies to said superstitions..knocking on wood, salt over shoulder,rabbits feet and four leaf clovers, etc. Happy Mothering!

  29. Sorry to hear about your challenges, but I enjoyed reading about them and your sense of humor came through beautifully. Also, the comments on this post were all over the place and equally interesting to read. 🙂

    Have a marvelous weekend – should be calm and uneventful now that #3 is out of the way. 🙂


  30. Every time I hear of a celebrities death I think well, two more are coming. And it’s true – they always happen in threes! Luckily I can’t say that about my own life but I do have my weird superstitions and I think many of us do without even realizing it. One of mine: I have one ring that I have to wear on the same finger every single day or I feel like my day just won’t be right. And, it’s not a wedding ring 🙂 Anyway, albeit a rough day for you Galit it made for a great reading blog post! And, love the photos of your kids.