I enjoy reliving my childhood through the eyes of my kids. The things I recall most about my childhood were not the times we did things out of the ordinary, it was the routines. I found an amazing amount of security in the day to day rhythm to our family life. Mornings were always filled with my brother and me wanting MORE sleep and being slow to get up. We’d hear mom yell from down stairs, “Get up, it’s time to get up!” We either moaned and ignored her or yelled something foul in an effort to ward her off, neither worked of course. The final volley from mom was always “Get up…:::a pause, then:::: GET UP, GET UP, GET UPPPPPPP!!!!!” She was relentless. On occasion mom would get fed up and wouldn’t wake us up. The school bus pulling up to the stop in front of the house was like an air raid siren to me. It would jerk me out of my morning slumber faster than mom ever could. Oddly I would always protest to my mom about NOT waking me up at a time like that. The routine was missed when it ceased, but while it was there, it was taken for granted.
Another routine was dinner at the table. Some of the happiest memories for me were made at our dinner table. We all talked, each talking over the other until mom or dad would yell they couldn’t hear themselves think, or coaching us, “…one at a time, it’s only polite!” We engaged in discussions about current events or things going on with friends. We could ask all sorts of questions and dad could never escape mom’s “maybe you should answer this one” look. At various times our routines would be changed, especially as teenagers. We didn’t eat together as a family much and each of us kids would complain saying how important to eat together. We always tried to sound very mature when expressing this too.
One summer about 12 years ago, I took my daughter, Gina, to an RV sales lot and leisurely explored each fancy travel trailer and 5th wheel on display. I never let on to the sales staff I wasn’t really a buyer. In fact, that was part of the fun for us, never letting on we were merely window shopping. Gina thought that was high times! We did that every year in the summer until she didn’t come up as often. One summer, both kids were up together, Chris was old enough to climb around and explore like any other five year old on the planet does without thinking. Near the end of the summer vacation, she pipes up, “Hey, we haven’t gone to check out the RV’s! When are we gonna go?” You could have knocked me over with a feather! Without even realizing it, I created a routine she expected we’d still do on her visits to see me even though she hadn’t been up in the summers for a bit.
Last week the cupboards were a bit bare in my pantry, but in the back was an unopened box of pancake mix. Just two weeks earlier I’d taken Chris to the local IHOP on a Sunday morning, he really enjoyed the pancakes so when I saw the box in my pantry I thought it was a good idea to whip some up. He didn’t get terribly excited about them. This morning I noticed the pancake mix on the counter and announced I was making them again, they are, after all so easy and quick to make in the morning. This time Chris yelled out his approval and even came in to the kitchen to watch. When I set off the smoke alarm while making them (…look, I’m not much of a cook, ok!) Chris even fanned the alarm so it would stop its annoying alert. That was exciting for him, he reveled in the drama of dad making pancakes.
You can’t choose the things your kids will find memorable, they choose you. Next weekend, probably Sunday morning, I’m breaking out the pancakes again. I think Chris and I have a routine that suits us, perhaps I won’t set off the smoke alarm next time. Chris takes his as a tall stack, just like I did at his age. No stack was ever too tall for me to handle as long as I had enough napkins.
I wonder if he will make pancakes for his kids some day because of these memories.
Thanks for reading this far.