Monday, October 16, 2006

Morning Routine

Guest blogger: Joe Orecchio

My greatest fathering joy is the daily morning routine I share with my son.

Elyse, my wife, leaves for work earlier than I do, so the job of getting Theo dressed and out to the school bus falls to me. It is a job I am grateful to have.

I shake the sleep from my eyes and get out of bed with the La la la la la of Elmos's world. Theo is usually already up and doing some little boy thing, but sometimes he is a sleepy head in need of rousing. A bit of nudging and light wrestling does the trick.

“Got to get ready for school bug,” I'll say.

“School bug” he'll say as he springs into action.

Elyse will be putting on her final makeup touches and getting his lunch ready as Theo scurries to his drawers and picks out his clothes. This doesn't always go so well. Often he wants to wear a shirt that is dirty or just wrong for school. This morning he picked out one of Elyse's shirts. It can become a struggle. One that I win.

Elyse is usually out the door when I say, “Socks.” With that, Theo runs to the bedroom, climbs on the bed and pulls one of his little pairs of socks from the top drawer. I wait for him on the couch to come out from the bedroom, socks in hand, and crawl into my lap. Once his socks are on, he pops off, gets his sneakers and crawls back in my lap.

With him dressed, I throw on a pair of jeans, my own socks and sneakers as he tugs down my Milledge Mets shirt from my closet door hook. The days are getting colder, so now I throw a sweater over the shirt. I pour a cup of coffee, collect up his lunch and put it in his Spongebob book bag.

This is the moment when Theo gets his lovey of the moment. A few weeks ago it was a little yellow schoolbus. This week it's a red truck. Months ago I was silly enough to believe that his elephant was going to be his Velveteen rabbit, but Theo is a love em and leave em kind of guy. I put on his jacket and book bag as he switches his truck from hand to hand, and then we are out the door.

When I used to take him to daycare every morning, he would grab my New York Times and carry it all the way. These days he runs straight to the elevator button as I scoop up the paper.

Downstairs I sit on the step and once again he crawls into my lap. This is our quiet moment as I sip my coffee, read my paper and he watches diligently for the arrival of the bus. Neighbors pass us with cheerful goodmornings that Theo responds to with either his sweet voice or a wave of his hand. During this quiet moment I'm reading the paper and sipping my coffee, but I'm also cherishing the feel of my boy in my lap.

“There it is!” Theo yells as the bus pulls up. We leave the paper and the coffee behind and quick step it out to the street.

“Morning Theo” the bus driver says as the helper steps out to help him in. I should learn their names some day.

“Give me a kiss,” I'll say and he will, but only in a “I can't wait to get on the bus” quick kiss kind of way.

I then sneak around the back of the bus and mock scare a little asian boy that sits one seat up from the back. I'm not sure why I do this, but every morning the little boy is waiting to be scared and I love his smile.

Theo now has a window seat on the same side of the bus, so when I'm done scaring I tap on Theo's window. He's not that into me at this point. He's excited about his bus ride and the day ahead. He is off for his day, and I'm off for mine. Our routine is over, but I'll have it all back to cherish again the next morning.

This morning he waved as the bus drove away. It is a visual I will use the next time Theo throws one of his shirt tantrums to remind myself how blessed I am to have our morning school bus routine.

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