On our morning drive to school you and I talked about the need for you to become aware of routines and habits as you approach the turning of 9 this coming July.
The talk was a result of your mother’s request to me as I was leaving the house for the day that I chat with you about the morning care that you are providing for your dog, Blitz. This desire of her’s was brought on by this morning’s discovery that you sat downstairs, immobilized for 30 minutes, while contemplating Blitz’s poop and pee that you discovered in his crate. Your mother wanted me to discuss pet care and the ordering of your morning around pet care. As I walked the stairs headed towards the kitchen so that I could complete my morning ritual of water, supplements, and shakes, I determined that a talk based upon a larger scope of life was necessary. Rather than discuss Blitz’s pet care, I wanted to focus on your trend of choosing between doing something productive that would move you through the morning’s tasks as we approached our daily departure time of 7:15am rather than sitting in your underwear bemoaning resolvable circumstances.
As I gulped down the contents of capsules, glasses, and blenders, I decided to take advantage of our 30-minute drive by discussing with you ways that you can begin working on creating “big boy” routines that will lead to healthy adult habits along the journey of your life.
So what are habits and what is a routine? How can I define them for an 8-year old through this improvised talk?
For “habit”, I used the example of how you and your brothers expect a snack anytime that you visit a gas station with me. This expectation is present, without exception, anytime we are together at gas station or convenience store. This expectation, therefore is habitual (or a habit) and was formed through a routine; I would routinely buy you and your brothers drinks and snacks anytime I took you to a gas station with me from the moment you were allowed to eat anything besides your mother’s milk. I shared how this routine was rooted in my own childhood memories of treasured visits to “Bige’s”, a small family owned gas station in my community, and how thrilling of an experience it was for me to walk into Mr. Bige Bowling’s store and to peruse his candies, snack cakes, and sodas and to come out with a brown paper bag filled with these treasures. To this day, I still love gas stations and I have now passed that habitual love and routine onto you and your brothers. As an adult, you will no doubt feel nostalgic and a great compulsion any time you set foot in a gas station. Why? Because of the power and sway of habits and routines.
To move to the morning’s point, I segued into a discussion of your current morning habits; how you awaken, how you move through a morning, the tendencies you have, and how they will, over time, create a routine for the future adult Liam. We talked through the morning schedule and the morning tasks that must be completed by a set deadline. I encouraged you to develop the effort to awaken your mind, not succumbing to the physical fatigue that draws you back to the covers of your bed or to couch in the corner and, once it is awakened, to visually embrace an intentional movement through the morning’s tasks that must be completed before 7:15am; the time that my truck pulls out the driveway and drives you either to school or to a drop-off point where we meet friends with whom we carpool.
I encouraged you to see the differences in the various parts of your day; parts in which you are either independent of or dependent upon the direction and instruction of others while not being or being monitored. In the morning, you are largely independent of watchful eyes and consistent verbal direction or warnings. You are awakened and set upon the goal of “getting ready for school”. Once you are in the cab of my truck, you are now dependent upon others and are largely carefree of the burden to individually think/do/manage decisions/tasks/projects. Once you are in the cab of my truck, I am responsible for navigating towards the completion of the current goal; get you to school. You can sit easy and ride. Once you are in the doors of the school, the school staff shares responsibility with you by introducing you to and managing you through the day’s tasks and activities. And so it goes until you are back in the bed for the night.
You’re a good boy, Liam. You sat attentive to the talk. You responded where appropriate and necessary. You successfully led me to believe that you were listening. That’s a great habit you have formed through the routine of my talks :) I love you and I want the best for you. Therefore, I am sure we will be talking about habits and routines a few more times before you turn 9.
Love you always,