Secret Signals – Hooty Hoo!

Photo credit: Soverico via / CC BY-NC-ND

Based on the title of this post you may be thinking about the sound a hoot owl makes on a moonlight night as you walk through a deserted wood. It’s almost Halloween after all.

But it’s not as scary as it sounds. It’s actually a secret code developed between me and my oldest son, Guido, when he as six years old.

You see we lived on a busy street with lots of traffic. It had at least four factories, and if you counted the employees that drove to work plus the semi-trailer trucks that made deliveries, it could also be dangerous. It could be especially dangerous for little boys chasing baseballs, footballs and basketballs on their way home from school.

And so out of a sense of caution and instinct, I always instructed Guido, that should he ever come home by himself he was to call me so I could watch him cross the street.

“Hey mom! “he’d yell. “Hey mom!”

I’d push open the screen door and watch him look both ways. And then he’d dash across the street.

One day, he came to me quite concerned about what his friends would think if they ever heard he had to call his mother to cross the street. I could tell he had given this issue some serious consideration.

And so I asked him what he would like to do instead?

He said that he’d like to have a secret code instead of yelling for his mother.

In my mind, yelling to get your mother’s attention, no matter what you said was going to draw stares. But he said it wasn’t what you said that mattered but how you said it.

I had to agree with him there.

And so on those days when he stood at the curb of our busy street all by himself, he puffed himself up like an owl and cried “Hooty hoo! Hooty Hoo!”

The first time he did that our neighbor, Nanny, happened to be coming out of her house at the same time I opened the door.

She looked at Guido, and she looked at me, and said with a wink, “Why land sakes Louise, it sounds like we have an owl in our neighborhood.”

And with that, Guido flew across the street.


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