When we finally got the kids (relatively) settled into their beds last night I collapsed on the couch and heaved a sigh of relief. We'd made it through Tuesday, Day Two of back-to-school/work week.
Is it Friday, yet?
Transitioning back into life after the holidays hasn't been easy. L. who for the first eight years of his life was up like a jack in the box at the crack of dawn (during the second year of his life he woke up at 5:00 a.m. sharp for seven straight months) has decided that beds are cozy, desirable places to be, especially on a cold, cold January morning. When we did get out of the house on Tuesday morning, and into the car, he slumped in the back seat, and we drove in our customary silence, for there is never to be any talking in the car on the way to school--L.'s rule, not mine.
Of course, to get into the car, we had to get past several other rules and regulations governing life at our house, including new rules about pants and shirts. There are, this year, School Shirts and House Shirts and School Pants and House Pants and never the two shall mix. Ever. I didn't know all this until a few weeks ago, when I began to notice that the contents of his dresser drawer always ended up all over the floor every time he tried to get dressed in the morning. I'd fuss at him and he'd stuff the shirts back into the drawer, and yet they'd appear, the next day, all over the floor again.
Finally one morning right before winter break, he refused to get dressed at all.
"Why?" We asked him.
"There aren't any school shirts here, only house shirts!" He wailed angrily.
Yet the house shirts looked surprisingly like the...school shirts; regular t-shirts, some with print, some plain, some too small, some too big. As it turned out, the reasons for the school shirts being School Shirts and not House Shirts are reasons I can understand. The line he has drawn between what he can wear to school and at home is yet another measure of control he has set up in his ongoing effort to keep all things school and all things home separated, to control the spilling over of the part of the day he hates, into his treasured safe home time, the part of the day he needs and loves.
There was a time, not too long ago, when this shirt/pants business would have bothered me too much. I might have stared into the dark at night, wondering how we could fix it, and what could we do to get him into different clothes, and send him to school in a House Shirt, instead of a School Shirt? Because if we could just fix that, then we'd fix everything, maybe.
But instead L. and I spent a good thirty minutes clearing out his drawers. He told me which shirts were House Shirts and School Shirts, and which pants could definitely never be worn out of the house, and which ones once worn to school had to then be relegated to a different section of the drawer, never to touch the Home Pants. Then we divided the drawers with plastic walls from pieces of an old castle he had (perfect drawer dividers, as it turned out), and instead of pulling my hair out about it all I felt good inside; good that we'd restored some order to the chaos, made some sense of it all.
Because you have to; that's one of my rules.