816 North Opinion

Susan Vollenweider: The last routine morning

In Writing 101 I learned that the best place to start a story is on a day that was different.

In Writing 201 I learned to break the rules.

The day I will write about wasn’t different at all. It was chaotically, loudly, and frenetically typical: Husband was up first, made coffee, did his morning routine and headed to work. As soon as he left, I woke up.

You know the theory that says you marry your opposite? Guilty. He is a morning person; I am not.

He: Awake and go!

Me: Awake? Why am I awake? I don’t want to be awake. Let me be partly awake, I’m willing to negotiate.

Our children are divided. Luke is a morning person and embraces the day with a bear hug.

Bekah is slow and silent. She holds the day off from any physical affection as long as possible.

Noah is a crank; he slaps the day for simply existing.

“What is that smell and do we need to have Sports Center so loud?” I asked Luke as I let gravity bring me downstairs.

“It’s an egg, cheese and Ranch dressing sandwich. Want one?”

I gagged. “No, thanks. Do you have to eat on the couch?”

I think he said yes, but his mouth was pretty full. He also didn’t turn the TV down.

I caught sight of an apparition floating out of Bekah’s room and locking itself in the bathroom, apparently right before Noah got there because he pounded on the door and screamed, “You look like something I would draw with my left hand, Bekah! The last time I saw something like you, I flushed it!”

In my head I ran back upstairs to tell him to stop insulting his sister, but my body was in control, not my head. My body was aiming toward the kitchen.

Allow me to impart some morning wisdom: If you stand perfectly still in the kitchen for a full minute wondering why you went there, the answer is coffee.

The coffee routine is always the same: Mug, creamer, coffee, sip. Put down mug and forget about it for 15 minutes, discover it cold, reheat. Repeat.

Routine tells me that Noah will calm himself down, Luke will think he cleaned up his breakfast mess, but didn’t. Routine tells me that when the four of us pile into my minivan for the high school taxi run, the TV will still be blasting Sports Center.

That morning was perfectly routine.

But the next morning?

Brian woke and happily dove into his day.

Luke bounced out of bed and elevated the house volume and activity level.

Bekah silently floated.

Noah spouted insults then became happy.

I reheated my coffee four times in 90 minutes.

But when it came time for the high school taxi run, I didn’t do it. They did it themselves.

The day before was the last day that I had to dodge teen drivers in the school parking lot, the last day I would shoo two kids from the van, the last day I would tell them that I loved them and to close the van door before someone saw my jammies.

On the day that was different, Luke and Bekah drove themselves. I was out of the high school taxi business.

As the front door slammed shut behind the older kids, Noah and I stared at each other, confused. This wasn’t part of our routine. We lived by that routine! Until he goes to high school in five years, we’re going to need a new routine.

Noah turned the channel to Cartoon Network.

I reheated my coffee.

The doorbell rang.

Luke bounced into the house. “Forgot my driver’s license!”

That better not be part of the new routine.

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.

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