There is a ritual that happens every school morning in our house. There is also routine, but the meaning of the ritual is more significant to me. The routine is the pre-show to the ritual.
Graham gets up first and drags himself into the living room where I let him sit at the coffee table to eat his cereal while he watches cartoons. We have a few moments of snuggling and lamenting about how we wish we could go back to bed. That is followed by me kicking him out of the chair, convincing him that he’s not sick and no I won’t homeschool him. Then finally I wake Rachel up. Her eyes are bleary and she walks into the living room like a zombie with hair every which way. I repeat the routine with her with a bowl of cereal and cartoons. In the meantime, Graham is dressed and ready to go out the door. After Rachel finishes her breakfast, she finally emerges from her room a completely different person than the one she entered as, looking as if she’s stepped right out of a Neutrogena ad.
Graham sometimes rides his skateboard, but half of the time I drive him. I come home from dropping him off only to load Rachel up and begin the trek to the middle school. Sometimes the routine is interrupted by turning around because of a forgotten lunch box, signed form, or homework assignment. But finally each child is where they’re supposed to be and on time.
This is when the ritual begins.
When I walk back in the door, my house is lit up like a Christmas tree. I’m sure you can see it from space. I begin with the hall light next to the kitchen, then the laundry room light, then the kitchen. I fold up cereal boxes and rinse out bowls that should have already been rinsed out. I tie up loaves of bread and 409 the milk that was sloshed on the floor, otherwise it’ll be sticky. I make my way to the kids’ rooms and turn off each of their lights- lamps and overhead lights- and their bathroom light. Then finally the hall light.
The house is quiet and empty, but each room tells a story of what happened that morning. In Rachel’s room, there are books stacked everywhere and clean clothes strewn across the floor because she couldn’t decide what to wear. There are papers with cartoons drawn on them carefully scattered next to her bed. There’s a pencil lying on top of the paper where she dropped it from falling asleep the night before.
In Graham’s room, it’s not much different. Of course there’s laundry everywhere because it takes way too much effort to pick it up and walk the 2 feet to their laundry basket. In one corner there’s soccer gear. In the other corner is skateboard gear. And all over the bed are chord charts for his guitar. There is a phenomenon, however, in Graham’s room. Do you remember in the movie Signs that Abigail Breslyn always left glasses of water everywhere? Graham does that. I don’t know why he can’t finish one before he gets another. Sometimes it’s cups of milk, but he naturally learned his lesson after finding out the science behind it being unrefrigerated.
I will rant and rave about the virtues of keeping things straight…a place for everything and everything in it’s place. There will be no skateboarding or computer until your room is straight. Why is this basket right here? It’s for your backpack to go in, not beside. Don’t you know that corn flakes will dry up and stick to the side of this bowl and it will take a blow torch to get it off?
I sometimes feel like the Army- I do more before 7am than most people do all day. My house and I just roll our eyes and shake our heads and snicker at the mass chaos each morning.
But I will take a deep breath, realize the President isn’t going to visit today, and be thankful to the Lord that the house is full of people that I like.
That’s part of the ritual too.