Kids crave structure. It’s true, they do. Following several rough mornings last school year, I made chore charts for the boys and used them to dole out totalitarian structure. The charts gave our mornings focus and order and allowed the boys to determine how much Curious George they would watch on any given day. It was good for all of us.
It wasn’t until yesterday morning I was thinking about self directed control and security; the forms in which it manifests. Our final house guests had left in the wee hours of the morning, I was knee deep in laundry and mid stride of cleaning my bathroom, when my oldest announced he’d completed all his chores on his chart (It’s been at least a month since he felt any inkling to work on his chores, as I’d given them a pass this Summer). His bed was stripped, room cleaned, teeth brushed and he was on to cleaning the hall bathroom with a sprayer of water.
As I fought the urge to tell him to leave the bathroom be, no doubt I’d need to go in behind him, it dawned on me, he too was looking for order. He’s come to learn my coping with stress procedure and possibly adopted some it for himself. His mood was elated and confident. He was in control.
Moves are hard on everyone. Regardless of their ability to express it verbally. I thought back to our move to the island two and half years ago. We’d left our home, moved into lodging, flew across the country, visited family, flew across the ocean (no small feat with being stranded in LAX for several hours with a three and one year old), and moved into another military lodging. My boys were out of sorts. Rudderless.
The morning hubby put on his uniform to sign into duty in Hawaii, all was right in the world with my boys. Unknowingly, the uniform had become synonymous with structure and security for them. As it has in many ways for Vance and myself: job security, routine expectations amid the sea of constant change, and comfort in the consistency. As hubby prepares to permanently hang up his boots, 25 years after raising his right hand, and we waffle into the great unknown that is military retirement (18days and a wake up), it won’t be those temporary rafts of cleaning and chores to sustain us, or the normalcy of uniform. It’ll be something far greater we’ll use to rudder our lives – the open arms of friends and the backbone of family.