Do you "Routine"?

>> Friday, June 5, 2009

I started out my morning this morning with a very satisfying, "click" of the diaper wipe box in my son's bedroom. This time, in honor of all 9 of you, I said, "click" when I pushed it. The diaper wipe box is right next to the baby monitor input. Downstairs, I hear my darling husband talking with my son, saying, "Uh oh, I think Daddy forgot to close the diaper wipe box again."

This remark got me thinking. "Forgot to close the diaper wipe box." That's what he said. I find this very peculiar. He says, "forgot" like this is a task on a list of things to do that didn't get done. To me, this sounds like he said, "I forgot to clean up the hot water I just spilled on the table this morning that is rapidly leaving a white mark in the wood and is still burning my hand." This isn't like, "I forgot to bring the document to work, and I left it on the shelf."

So, I pondered this, and here is my theory. Some people are very fixated on their routines, especially in the morning. They have built their routines from an early age, based on what their parents taught them when they were very young. (E.g., brush your teeth and go to bed. I still can't go to bed without brushing my teeth first.) Of course, we all have routines, but some of us are more "programmed" than others. They follow the checklist -- no freelancing, no deviations. This means there are no eyes roaming the room noting (and fixing) the things that are wrong or out of place. To the extent the pre-caffinated (or pre-lunch, pre-snack, pre-sleep -- you name it) brain is even functioning beyond autopilot, it is already thinking about the next step on the list. I'm guessing darling husband is one of those stuck in a routine. (Okay, I know he is, but I didn't realize how extreme.) With all the computer references he makes himself, I'm beginning to wonder ... where do I find the source code to the diaper changing routine so I can add, "close diaper wipe box" to the functions. I've tried appealing to the penny-pinching logic "Close the box or the wipes will dry out and we will need to fork out even more money." I've tried appealing to the I'm-stuck-with-poop logic, "Close the box or the wipes will dry out and you won't have anything whatsoever to wipe the baby's bottom next time." Both, he admits, are sensible, but still he forgets. I need to get into the programming and change it directly, I think.

I don't know how people get this way, but some do. I guess some people find a lot of comfort in the routine. Me? Routine bores me. I remember walking into work each morning and stopping for a cup of coffee in the machine. We had a one cup machine that took maybe 2 minutes from start to finish to brew me my own special cup of coffee. I found this a dreadfully long time to stand around each morning, simply following my routine. I did everything I could to speed up the process -- including pouring the sugar and cream into the coffee while it was brewing. (Not before, because that doesn't save any time.) Nuts, I know, but imagine how bad it was when I actully walked to Starbucks for the brew. I had to put an end to that because that routine took a whole 15 minutes out of my chance to start my day.

On my most excitable days, I am very "anti" routine. This has a lot of plusses. Its fun; I see a lot of things in my day; I try a lot of stuff. There are minuses, though. I need to make myself lists and lists to make sure I remember the things I must do. I also get so excited about new things going on around me that sometimes I forget what I was doing. It is a bad day around here when I catch myself saying, "Oh, did I put breakfast potatoes in the oven awhile ago?"

I have fun, though. I think I drive darling husband nuts, because my list of things to do never gets smaller, it just gets more detailed. On one hand, is routine better, if it doesn't get the job done because the routine is wrong? I may seem scatterbrained, but I wield the weapons of order and organization in this house. I see the forces of chaos at work and I beat them back daily. It may not be sequential, but it does get accomplished, and if I relied on routine, I wouldn't have stopped my hairdrying this morning to come and write you this update.



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