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Parental rituals, research, and reindeer

This will be my last blog post until after Christmas, probably, so first I want to wish all my readers a Happy Winter Solstice and Merry Christmas.

It's that time of year to reflect on a new year, annual traditions, family, peace, suffering and happiness. The whole thing. Lately, I've been strongly considering taking up a spiritual practice like yoga or meditation more seriously again. If only for some stress relief and quiet time to myself. In my younger days, I was a regular since I helped run the umbrella organization for all our religious activities at a 1200 student college. It wasn't unusual for me to attend yoga on Monday, Buddhist-style meditation 3 days a week, Torah Study on Friday, and a New Testament discussion group at lunch one day. I miss it.

I've been reflecting quite a bit lately on Christmas rituals. Cutting down a tree. Decorating. Baking cookies. Gifts. Christmas music. Which ones are important and meaningful and which ones aren't all that much. And it's funny how parenting rituals are the same. How many of us think nothing of throwing our tired children in bed for the night versus how many of us take great care to create a specific atmosphere of books, songs, bath, changing into pajamas.

The routine for me, lately, that I've grown quite fond of is mornings. My son has been asking for his mother to dress him for school--which is probably for the best considering it doesn't go well for he and I sometimes. So my tasks are in the kitchen. He likes shredded wheat, dry, in a small bowl--along with a chocolate milk--for breakfast. Plus there is a juice and snack to pack in his backpack. And I take great care with my own coffee...which requires grinding, boiling water, brewing, pouring. Then in the last few weeks I've been going the extra mile to make a cup of tea for the mama. It's as easy as pouring already-boiling water over a tea bag in a mug. But that's still some extra steps--she appreciates it and makes me feel good for having done it though. A nice touch.

I timed it this morning. It took 13 minutes from start until setting the timer for my coffee to steep. I can essentially leave for 5 minutes and when I come back the coffee and tea are ready to drink. So as I looked at the clock this morning I was thinking about how important that 13 minutes is to all of us. Cole usually comes to the gated kitchen doorway when he's dressed. Oops, forgot to mention that if Leda is awake she will want milk or her own breakfast. So some mornings the entire family is counting on my small quarter-hour of time spent preparing for our day.

Tiny? Yes. Insignificant? Maybe. But not to the people in my family and I do it with a smile on my face. There's a deeper message in there about the holiday season maybe, right?

* * *

For those asking about how my interview went with the university researcher...it was good! It took about 45 minutes and I managed to squeeze it in while the kids were napping. Until the very end, at least, when Leda woke up. It was fairly basic questions about how our family works and how I feel about being a Stay At Home Dad. But it also delved into heavier topics like how it impacts relationship dynamics, social/cultural issues with gender norms/roles, and she hinted at a few things some other dads had said about the whole subject realm. It's always neat to see what my brothers-in-parenting are doing...personally within their family but also the importance of our modern connection via the web. I couldn't do what I do, have the voice I have, or reach the people I do without the blog and social media (and the support of my partner, obviously!). And thank you to those of you who also share your experiences! As I told the researcher, I can't imagine doing this 20 or 30 years ago. The guys who did it then were even more isolated and alone.

* * *

Lastly, today was the school Polar Express party to end class before Winter Break. It was amazing to see the social circle of who wants to sit by school and who is friends. Cole's transformation is remarkable. The speech therapist was there and commenting that she has moved on to new goals because he's already reached his annual goal.

At school, we took a pretend ride (in the hallway) on a train, read the story, sang songs, ate gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate, and the kids all got a jingle bell to take home. Cole is still ringing his in his room as he tries to take a nap. Something tells me it's going to just be an early bedtime. Of course, it doesn't help that he so cutely and nicely asked for donuts(!) on the way home.

It's Christmas...why not?

Comments

  1. Thank you Kyle. This was a moving piece. You and my son would be good friends under different circumstances. Have a very Merry Christmas, a Peaceful Winter Solstice, and a blessed New Year.

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