Every morning, he wakes up and comes to find me. He calls out, "Mama! I'm up Mama!" He greets me warmly and with such enthusiasm one might think he hasn't seen me in days.
Every morning, after our greeting, M tells me he will go use the bathroom. I respond in the same manner each time by telling him to go in the bathroom and that I will be there in just a minute.
Every morning, he tells me he needs a drink. Over and over and over, he makes his request known. "Drink, please, Mama. I want orange juice please." I remove two cups from the cabinet. One for M's juice and one for my coffee. "Mama needs coffee!" M will tell me. Sometimes he will run to a drawer to bring me a spoon.
Every morning, he will carry his cup from the island in the kitchen to the table. He will drink his juice and put his cup in the sink. As soon as the cup is in the sink, he will begin the request of, "TV, please! TV, please! TV, please!" He will now repeat this phrase several times. (Remember the movie 'Rainman' and "Ten minutes to Wapner"? Enough said. )
M has used the bathroom, had a drink and has settled in for his morning date with the Disney channel. This is my cue to take a shower. I swore I would never be one of those parents who uses a television to babysit their children. I can openly admit that, yes, I am that parent who does have times when the TV is the babysitter. When I want to shower, Disney and Nickelodeon come to my rescue. The thought of a power outage scares the hell out of me and makes my blood run cold. As far as the morning routine is concerned, a power outage can mean total system failure.
Once out of the shower, it is time to help M with his breakfast. It is always the same: O's and yogurt. By 'O's' I mean Honey Nut Cheerios that have been cleverly mixed with the plain variety to reduce the sugar. M will usually have one or two cups of yogurt each morning. I've tried to change up the breakfast, but this is what he likes. This is what he expects. Knowing what to expect helps make his day run much more smoothly.
This morning I notice that there is one cup of yogurt left. I pull up a mental schedule of today's agenda and try to determine when I will be able to make it to the store for more yogurt. My day is jammed packed. I have to work. M has a doctor's appointment and I have to be home in time for Miss J to get off the bus. I have to make dinner and Miss J has Irish Dance tonight. I decide I should have enough time between the doctor's appointment and getting Miss J off the bus. M will have to come with me, but it is still early enough in the day that he will not be too tired and should be able to manage the trip.
Some readers may find it difficult to understand why one would rearrange their day for something as simple as yogurt. All I can say is that it is akin to discovering that you have one roll of toilet paper left in your house. It is essential. You will make the time to get it. Period.
M will eat his breakfast. He is very good about clearing his place at the table and bringing his dishes to the sink. At this point he will ask for television for just 'five more minutes'. M still has no concept of time, but has learned this little trick of asking for 'five more minutes' from his sister. Asking is carefully executed, both children understanding that catching me in a busy moment is more likely to get them the time extension they are requesting.
Some days the request for five more minutes of television is granted. (Read: Five minutes for me to drink my coffee in peace.) On the days that M's request is denied, he will parrot back to me the words I have told him so many times: "My bus is coming really soon." He knows that it is time to finish preparing for school. He will go into his room and remove his pajamas and will bring them to the laundry pile. With my assistance, he will wriggle into underwear, pants, a shirt and socks. In that order. Always. We will each take a turn at brushing his teeth. M will put the toothbrush in his mouth and every time he will tell me, "that tastes really yucky." He will ask me to fix his hair, complete with gel and hairspray.
He will examine himself in the mirror and will nod with approval. He will finally announce to his reflection, "I look good!"
As I check M's backpack, he will put on his shoes by himself. He will come to me for help with his coat. Once zipped, he will look out the window for his bus. When it rolls into our driveway, M will exclaim, "My bus is here!" He is always happy to see the bus.
Together we will walk to the bus. Every morning he tells me the same thing, "Mama, I make new friends today!" (Most of M's repetitive behavior has me wanting to pull my hair out, but this phase I do truly enjoy.)
This is how it goes down at our house every morning.
Some may wonder what kind of parent plays into such a routine. What kind of parent would rearrange her day in order to make sure her son has his beloved yogurt in the morning. What kind of parent flips on the television at 7am without batting an eyelash.
I am that parent. I am not perfect and neither is my parenting. This is not a case of me caving in to the demands of a seven year old brat. I suppose you could say that for M, this is neurological necessity. M is neurologically wired in a different way. M's world is black and white. It is or it isn't. It is 1's and 0's. M gets through his days not through logic and reason, but by knowing what comes next. M gets through his day by following his sequence of steps.
The morning routines make me weary and longing for change. It find them monotonous. Tedious. I understand that he needs them. I know they calm him.
I have learned that the best way for me to have M in my world, is to learn to step into his.