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These are my thoughts, yo.

Routine Operations

jasmine banks

We've been preschoolin' it up for a solid 5 weeks now, old pros for sure. Our bodies aren't as confused when we force them to wake up at 6am, get dressed, brush hair, find the shoes and hit the road Jack. Though they do still protest. And as we continue settling into all this, I continue to see am really seeing for the first time, how Norah thrives on routine. Why am I seeing it for the first time? Because I have never really been able to give her that sense of daily and regular routine. But she is so much more settled in this. Sure, she still says she doesn't want to go to school, still looks very uncertain and anxious when we head to the school, but she doesn't freak out any more. And she continues to have stories to tell me. And three days a week we do the exact same thing, have the exact same conversations, lest the roof blow off the car and we have to drive through winter in a Norah induced convertible.

So we wake her up at 6 in the morning, and she rolls around in the bed until I sit on her or Max squawks at her or Rusty wrestles her from under the covers and puts her clothes on her stiff zombie body. Then we dress Max, who is less like a zombie and more like a floppy fish. Then we talk while I do my make up. Mom are we going to school today? Yes. Mom are you going to work today? Yep. Mom is Daddy going to work today? Yes maam. Mom is Max coming to school too? Yep. Mom, Max doesn't like to be at school. He cries when you leave. Yes he does, but he is ok. He stops crying right after I leave. Mom, is Mimi at work today? She sure is.

Then we fight over her hair and I go make my coffee and get their cups ready to take on the road and we do the daily get our bags diapers cups coffee keys various papers and detritus that we simply must have at school. And then MOM! Where is my blankie?! And Chuck E? And finally we make it to the car.

We drive in silence usually, still waking up and listening to our books on tape. Then we get to school and Norah informs me once again that we have to do Max first. So we clock in, take the boy to his class and my heart breaks a little bit more every time his face crumples and he starts to cry when he realizes that I am going to leave. He holds his blanket and wails and it takes all I have not to just toss work out and take my boy back home where we can snuggle and play and never have to leave one another. But I know that won't help anyone in the long run, so I kiss his sad head, tell him I will see him in the afternoon and walk back out to Norah who waits in the hall.

We hold hands and walk to her room and put her backpack full of rocks and blankets and stuffed mice and the things she likes to collect into her cubby. She knows which one is hers and is very particular about hanging it correctly on the hook. She shoves her blanket in there too, finally coming to terms with the idea of the blanket as a nap time thing. Then she takes off her shoes and places them inside as well. We talk about lunch. What am I having today Mom? Oatmeal! And fish sticks for lunch, with tater tots and fruit. Then crackers and cheese and apples for snack! Do you think you will like fish sticks? I don't know what I am having for lunch, but I will tell you about it when I pick you up and you can tell me about the fish. Ok. When will you be here this afternoon? After four. After four, ok. I love you Nori, have a good day. Her sweet face looks a little scared, but when I walk out and then peek back in her window she is playing with a giant abacus and not seeming to mind that I am gone.

I'll pick them up in the afternoon with chocolate milk and a snack for her and her brother. I get Max first and his little face lights up and her drops whatever he is doing as soon as he sees me, running to the door and yelling at me in his crazyman talk. He shoves his face in my neck and we have a little moment there in the playroom. Then we get Norah, usually from the playground where she plays less with the other kids than she does in her own little imaginary land. We get in the care where we will talk about our days, our lunches, I liked the fish sticks! With ketchup! And I'll ask her how she manages to rip every pair of leggings she wears in the exact same place and get some crazy story about scooters and legs and lines and crashes in return. The story never changes so I assume that means she tells the truth. Max jabbers in the background about his day as well and shoves his snacks into the crevices in his carseat.

We don't deviate from this, and sometimes I wonder where this little alien came from, the one who really needs things to be the same everyday to make sure her little brain doesn't combust from the changes. Sometimes I worry about it, but then I think, Sheesh I could use a little routine myself, it would probably help me keep all my ducks in line, my mental ducks. If I could just get past the beast that lives in me, the Lazy Beast, bigger than the knowledge that I thrive on routine too. The Inertia Beast that sits on my chest and fuses me to the couch the chair the bed the floor in Norah's room, it is bigger than I want it to be and I can't figure out how to shrink its ugly mass.