Kids have selective hearing. Depending on what you're saying, they may be stone-deaf from a foot away or pick up dog whistles a block away.
Shout that it's time to do homework or household chores and you'll get no response from the next room.
But whisper the words “ice cream” from a remote part of the house and they'll descend on you like a flock of locusts, sometimes with kids from the neighborhood. You don't even need to finish the second word and it's like you've activated the tornado warning system for Harris County and your home is the designated shelter.
The hearing of adults is generally less contextual – and less keen, as Maribel Woodard can attest.
Woodard still has a fondness for ice cream, which could be why she indulged in a cone a little over six years ago at the close of her fast-food repast at a Harris County McDonald's. As fate would have it, however, it was raining when she left the restaurant and she (allegedly) slipped on a wet ramp.
Two years later, she filed suit against the franchise owner – and the McDonald's corporation, where the Big McBucks are stored. Unfortunately for Woodard, when the case finally came to trial four years later, last October, the charge to the jury did not include the corporate headquarters among the defendants.
But she and her counsel apparently missed that omission, which weighed heavily against her after she lost the case and tried to include HQ in her appeal.
“Because she asserted that she had no objection to the jury charge,” the higher court concluded, “Woodard waived her right to complain about the charge on appeal.”
Maybe things would have ended differently, had the jury charge included the words “ice cream.”