Saturday, February 11, 2012


Parents tend to try and provide their children with a routine.  Routine helps establish priorities.  Homework comes before video games.  Vegetables get eaten before dessert.  Teeth get brushed before bed.  You must watch Episode IV before Episode I.  How can you have your pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

While this sort of strict routine is helpful for growing children and house pets, I had begun to overlook the importance of it in my own life.  It took my sons being out of town with their grandparents for a full week without us (the longest my wife and I have been away from them since they were born) to realize how much we depended on the very same routine we enforce upon them.  Here we thought the arbitrarily made up rules were exclusively for their good.

Of course, we enjoyed the freedom of reading in bed, eating in bed, sleeping in bed…basically doing everything other than going to the bathroom in bed, but once we finally ventured beyond our bedroom, we found ourselves aimlessly wandering about the house asking one another, “What do you want to do today?” which was almost always answered by, “I don’t know.  What do you want to do today?” and so on until the sun had already set, we had forgotten to eat any meals consisting of ingredients other than potato chips, beer and cupcakes and began to wonder when the last time we showered was.

The final night of our week with no children was spent having dinner with my wife’s long time friend and her husband at their condo. Our friends had decided (of their own accord) long ago not to have children.  Upon walking through their front door, I suddenly realized what it must feel like as a comic book character to step through a portal into an alternate time line.

We spent the night listening to vinyl, eating deliciously spicy fare, taking in the stylish, oh-so-breakable décor and enjoying the occasional silence without having it broken by the pounding of feet across the floor or the electric blare of cartoons and video games.  We admired their open floor plan, a set up that did not require secluded space where one of them could escape from the noise and distraction of the other just to be able to think straight.  Even their dog was one of the calmest, quietest house pets I had ever seen, sometimes appearing silently at your feet beneath the table not to beg, but just to be comforted by being near you.

We spent several hours enjoying adult conversation, cocktails and non-processed food before calling it a night and heading back to our home.  Once there, we noticed the Nerf gun arsenal adorning our basement wall, the shelves filled with children’s books, the spelling tests hanging on the bulletin board and the occasional stray Lego brick or Nerf dart peeking out from beneath an item of furniture.  My wife and I climbed into bed together, knowing we had one last night to sleep in by ourselves, to enjoy the complete darkness that came without having to leave a hallway light on and said the same thing to one another, nearly in unison.

“I can’t wait to see the boys tomorrow.”

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