Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Joy of Routine

There's something special about routine. It's a rhythm of life that often goes unnoticed until a certain day comes along and your eyes are opened to the peaceful joy of consistency.

Today was one of those days. We've been pretty cooped up with the chilly weather, and my husband and I were playing a board game while our toddler son roamed around the house littering toys, books, and food in a well plotted out formation so that no one square-foot of the house was bare. Our faithful doggie was following the boy around, waiting for a handout and getting screeched at every minute or two. This game in and of itself was pretty routine, but it's not where I "saw the light" for the day. I'll have to work up to that one.

As the day wore on and nap time was fast approaching, I glanced outside at the beautiful streams of sunlight flooding the neighborhood.

"Let's go for a walk. Just around the block will be fine--just something to get Buster Brown out for a bit." Amazingly, that's a nickname for our son, not our dog.

We bundled up in winter coats and hats and got the little red wagon our son likes to pull behind him on such excursions. Passing the barrier between the shade of the house and the engulfing winter sunlight put a lilt in our gait. And for a few minutes, we just walked along the broken sidewalk in silence.

Soon, our little routine started falling in place. To begin with, I hardly noticed the pattern when I asked the child which way he'd like to go. As always, he pondered the possibilities of left or right for a moment, then grunted and pointed in his favorite direction--right.

As we moseyed along, I became aware of the small consistencies between that walk and all the walks we had gone on before. First of all, the boy meandered in his usual weaving trail while I walked in a straight line on the very edge of the sidewalk, one foot in front of the other. My husband and our dog paced in a protective position down a step on the paved road.

Our first stop as always was the rain drain. He pulled the wagon off the sidewalk, parked it along side the drain, and squatted down to take a peek down below. I allowed him to manipulate one leaf through the hole and down into the water. Then we moved on.

Up ahead were two cul-de-sacs which we eventually reached and conquered, but not without pausing to "count" that one house number that is made out of metal and is stuck in a little flower bed. 4407. It's always very intriguing. At the end of the second loop, we stepped off the sidewalk a couple of feet in order to touch the signpost--our signal to turn around. Once there, I asked him the usual question: straight back or cross the street first?

As soon as we reached the other side, the first set of mailboxes greeted us. He dropped the handle of his wagon in excitement. So many numbers arranged in vertical columns caught his attention. We spent the usual two or three minutes just gazing at the numbers, me sometimes lifting him up so that he could point them out in sequence.

Next up were the fence posts--eight in a row and perfect for counting. With a little skip here and there, he sped up his pace in order to find the next post more quickly. It helps that eight seems to be his favorite number. And right after the last post was the orange construction cone. It made the normal hollow bellow as he jabbered into it.

Two more set of mailboxes concluded the highlights of our walk. More numbers. More doors to try to open. The last set had our mailbox in it, along with a dozen more. He opened the one broken one used for packages. It doesn't lock when not in use. He creaked it open and then slammed it shut. Creak, slam. Creak, slam.

As we sauntered over the last little stretch toward home, I realized just how much I relished our routine. Even six months from now it won't look the same. We'll have other patterns by then, which will be wonderful, too. But I like the routine we have now and plan on enjoying it as often as possible.

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