Friday, May 04, 2007

Routine, Ritual and Tradition

Dog is man's best friend. Diamonds are a girl's best friend. The post is the goalie's best friend (thanks to Smoking Hot Roommate for the sports analogy;-))

Routine is a parent's best friend.

This is one of the (many) lessons I have learned in my 18 months of "parenthood". Kids need structure, and they work best when they have a regular schedule with regular routines. Up at the same time, breakfast at the same time, to school at the same time, etc. When they get out of their routine and out of their comfort zone, they get cranky, irritable and annoying (well, except for my sister, who is perfect;-)).

Routines quickly turn into rituals. You do the same thing every day, and then pretty soon you don't feel right if you don't do it. If Munchkin weren't sitting on my bed and chatting while I got dressed in the morning, I would really miss her. And who would dress me everyday and help me pick out shoes?:-)

Rituals eventually turn into traditions, and become the things you look back on fondly and look forward to with great anticipation. When Munchkin first moved here, I really didn't know what to do with on a daily basis. I mean, I knew the big stuff...find her a school, look into activities, etc...but on a day to day basis, it is really hard to think of things to do all the time. On a regular Sunday when nothing else is planned and it is raining, what do you do all day? Kids get bored VERY fast...

Munchkin has loved the Chicago Cubs forever. I think she may have gotten it from her father, but to be honest, I don't really know. Regardless, I found out that any time the Cubs were on TV, if I could find a place that showed the game, I could keep her entertained for three hours. Smoking Hot Roommate suggested a sports bar in town once, and we all went over, asked them to put on the game for her and had dinner while we watched the game. And with that, a tradition was born.

To begin with, it was something to do with her, and we usually did it on weekend afternoons when I needed to keep her occupied. Chicken fingers and french fries became a central part of the experience, as did sitting at the same table, having the bartenders greet her by ringing the bell, and drinking fancy drinks out of martini glasses (like Shirley temples, or cranberry juice and 7up).

And at some point, it went from being an activity to being a routine to being a ritual to being a tradition. And it went from being a time-wasting weekend activity to being a Thursday night tradition (which means less baseball, since the games start too late to really be out and watch them for her on weekdays). Now, we have a lot of routines so I don't have any trouble keeping her busy. But there is very little that I look forward to more than chicken finger and french fry Thursdays. Almost every Thursday, I really start looking forward to dinner about mid-morning.

If she is home, Smoking Hot Roommate joins us, and Big Sis, Papa Bear, The Rocket Scientist, The Brain Surgeon, The Boy, The Boy's Sister and her wife, and some other friends come sometimes too. Boss Foxy and her son came once. Sometimes it is just me and Munchkin:-)

Last night SHR and The Boy were both with us and Munchkin was in her element. She folds her legs under her and sits in the booth and chats away about everything she can possibly think of. And she always gets ketchup on her sleeves somehow:-) The chicken fingers were as delicious as always, as were the french fries. And the beer was as cold as ever (I don't usually drink if it is just the two of us...but I do if I have drinking buddies;-)). And it was the ordinariness of it all that I liked so much. And now I can start to look forward to next Thursday.

God's in His heaven, all's right with the world.

(Special note: kind of random, last-minute weekend plans, so I don't think I will be around at all this weekend. Which means you may need to wait until Monday morning for your fill of me:-))


e.b. said...

That was so freaking well written and well said. You are absolutely right and I never once thought about it in those terms, but really that is dead on. Plus it is so amazing that you have those special times with her, that you have created those moments and memories and that you are such a good mother to her. Truly amazing.

Ally said...

I love traditions too. They feel safe, warm, cozy, and happy all wrapped into one experience. And chicken fingers, fries, and honey mustard are sounding good right about now.

Anonymous said...

Well written... nice post.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

Traditions rock - they keep me sane....

brandy said...

Loved this! And I agree, traditions make things easier, the routine of it brings me comfort. And I dig chicken fingers. (Is it wrong that I'm hungry now?)

Aaron said...

+1 for traditions.

And your theological debate for this evening is: God is actually everywhere. Even hell.