The practical tasks of our morning routine could probably be accomplished in eight minutes. But it’s never eight minutes– as life (thank goodness) is never just practical.
After coming in from a run, hair frizzed to the max, dripping sweat, adorned with a glob of toothpaste I had apparently not wiped from my chin- the morning kicked into gear. Cohen had the milk and Cinnamon Toast Crunch out and Everett requested the same. Cohen and I argued over whether or not he should donate all of his old school supplies– I won out on a few items, and he won out on others. Seriously- the kid needs to go into conservation. 376th pencil bin for his room, here we come. (+2 minutes) Ellie came down in a giant purple walk-a-thon T-shirt and just needed to be held for a bit, so we rocked in the gray rocking chair for approximately 30 seconds before more frozen waffles were requested for the toaster oven. (+.5)
Cohen told me about how his favorite spot to play is catcher, and I ignored Mae dumping out half the syrup bottle out of the corner of my eye. (+3/ +2) We looked for misplaced toothpaste and hair ties and socks and delayed putting on shoes until after a few rounds of “Disney Queen” dancing were completed. (They all jump out from behind “backstage” — a blanket that’s draped over an overturned coffee table). (+5)
Everett chased Cohen and Soph down the driveway before they wrestled their way into Mrs. Poe’s van, and I dropped off Ellie, hearing her say “Hi Mr. Tony,” to her gym teacher as she exited the car. (Even though “We’re supposed to call him Mr. Bruno now”) (+10 seconds).
I drove the babies/twins to Home Depot for sand for their sandbox I will likely regret buying. Out of car, into cart, out of cart, into car. Then we made our way to Target. Both kids had to work together to haul the giant supply of toilet paper in the cart. (+1). They bunny-hopped down the aisles and informed me about the correct bread “papa likes to buy.” (+2) We found a toothbrush and headbands and they said “Let’s bunny-hop some more!” (+2). We checked out our items, accidentally double-scanning the toothbrush, and Everett got to grab the card out of the card reader. (+2). We returned to the car. Every time we get in the vehicle they demand to get in their seats on their own. “I do it!” Everett scales the carseat like a rock climber and must reach for the coat clip in the ceiling. If any step is skipped in the process, he must begin all over again. This works until it…. doesn’t. (+10).
That afternoon they emptied a toy bin and piled each toy one by one on the coffee table. Mae proceeded to create “stations”. “This is a ‘pooter station (computer), this is the baby station, this is the doggie station, this is the pencil station…and I’m the mama!” Everything was said with such gusto and confidence. So much attention and care– such purpose. All of the stuff would get put back later, and they knew it– but it didn’t matter.
They teach me that: that it will all be put back eventually, everything will be returned. But that doesn’t matter. We will organize and play with purpose anyway.
Recently, I saw a sign I had seen hundreds of times before: slow, children at play. “It’s not just an instruction,” I thought. “It’s also an observation. Because we’re not just the people racing– we are the children too.”
Even on my very first day of summer vacation last week- filled with anticipation and peace for the rest to come– it only took about five underdogs (or “funder dogs” as Everett likes to call them) for me to be done and ready to move onto something different. There must be something hidden there- some trick of the neurons that only the mystics must have- the ability to repeat, find joy, and repeat again.
Because there really is no where you have to be. (Well there is, but not really.) There is no race. There is no rush- except in the races that are just for the fun of it– which is to say– all the races.
The trick of adulthood is to find enchantment in repetition- or perhaps- to cling to the truth that there is no repetition as there is only the ever-enchanted now. After all- at tonight’s bedtime the earth will have progressed in its orbit, (you are 1.6 million miles away from where you were last night), thousands of people who were here yesterday will be here no more, and thousands more will have breathed for the first time. Your hair grows, bones stretch, cells multiply: and just outside your window, the same thing is happening to a nearly infinite amount of beings large and small. Cosmic and microcosmic– all changing, all becoming, all new. Perhaps part of finding contentment in repetition is knowing that nothing is ever truly repeated.
Maybe this is part of being able to do the 17th “funderdog” and still enjoy it.
Everett hums and pushes his car up and down the side of the ouch. Mae flips through the pages of the book she does not yet know how to read. They race to the foot of the bed and back in the rectangles of late afternoon sunshine- over and over and over again.