September 27, 2008 7:04 am
Clutter is something that I deal with on a daily basis. I don’t ENJOY it, per se, but it exists all around me. The floor in my car is perpetually covered with crumbled receipts, straw wrappers and the occasional shriveled french fry. The counter in my kitchen has never seen the light of day, even though it seems like I am ALWAYS cleaning it off and trying to put things in their proper place. It’s just a big dumping ground for all of the shit we carry into the house with us and that’s just the way it will always be. Although it drives me mad, I’ve come to accept our cluttered lives and move on.
The one thing I cannot let go is my need to schedule my children’s lives. When we had Graham, I quickly snapped into drill sergeant mode. I refused to deviate from his schedule for one minute and held my ground where family and friends are concerned. When my parents babysit, I send them a typed schedule with minute by minute activities. I even send a typed menu and pack up all of the food he’ll need while he’s there. I know my parents did a great job raising three kids, but Graham is my kid and I call the shots now. Besides, it’s been over thirty years since they were in charge of raising small children so they’re a little rusty. When he’s there, I call every so often and if Graham isn’t doing exactly what he is scheduled to be doing, I get pissed. Yes, I’m that mom. Nice to meet you. I can’t not do it and my efforts HAVE been warranted, like the time I called to check on Graham (he was maybe five months old at the time) and he was SCREAMING in the background. I asked my dad if he had finished his bottle an hour before and my dad was all “oh, he was supposed to have a bottle?”. Yeah, there’s a need to check in. My parents used to roll their eyes and mock my scheduling back in the day. Now, they’re scared to deviate.
I’m the youngest of three but I was the first to get married and the first to start a family. My older brothers used to mock my Hitleresque approach to parenting and get miffed when I would refuse to attend family events that didn’t fit into our schedule. Then they both had kids. You see, as the keepers of the coveted FIRST GRANDCHILD, we were responsible for breaking in the grandparents for future grandchildren. I took the role very seriously. I stocked my parent’s house with a crib, toys and double of all of our baby contraptions. I gave them cabinet locks (and refused to let Graham go over again until they were properly installed). I was pretty tough on them and it paid off.
My brothers are now fathers, and they have come to appreciate the groundwork that I laid. They can happily drop off their kids for an overnight stay knowing that Grandma and Grandpa have all the accommodations. My parents now get miffed if they receive a visiting grandchild WITHOUT a schedule. Who wouldn’t want to skip the guesswork of what comes next? As Graham grows older, his schedule leaves room for a little slack, but Elliots does not budge. As you read this, Jamie and I will be on our gambling junket in Biloxi, which means Grandma and Grandpa will be here with the kids. You bet your ass they’re going to be following that schedule to a T.
*Note: I am well aware of the fact that I look like a crazed lunatic for following such a strict schedule with my kids. As their parents, Jamie and I agree on all decisions and have found that adhering to a schedule makes for happier kids.
Think I’m kidding? Here are the documents my parents will be following. I took a picture of them rather than waiting the ten hours it would take for my scanner to scan all of these documents.
Elliot’s minute by minute.
And here is Graham’s menu. I actually printed out a copy for each day and then circled the options for each meal.