Friday, February 24, 2012

silly silly silly silly silly RITUALS.

Life is crazy.

I know, I should warn everyone to sit down before I unload profound and original insights like that.

But seriously, life is so crazy these days, I frequently feel utterly disconnected from everything except my color coded calendar. Neon yellow for kid 1, Pink for kid 2, Blue for kid 3…I used to write school stuff in green but then I lost my green pen. Hospital days are circled, the one medicine day I tend to forget now has B written on it…my calendar is a dictator waiting to be overthrown.

If only I had the energy to stage some kind of coup…

I’ve realized over the last few weeks kind of a funny thing amidst the crazy disconnectedness that defines my average mental state. There are these tiny moments, these silly rituals, that tether me to my kids. Even when they are not with me, I find myself mentally doing things that only make sense WITH my kids. This oddity intrigues me.

When kid #2 started her all too frequent hospital trips back in 2004, she was only 6 years old…aka High Maintenance on Long Car Rides to Out of State Hospital. She NEVER slept in the car. Not ever. We had to come up with some interesting things to get through the last few miles of the trip when we inevitably hit massive traffic. So we started counting bridges. Not big bridges like the Walt Whitman or the Ben Franklin. We count overpasses.

When you get on 676 in Philly, heading from 95 to 76, the road goes down into this weird canal like trench. I have often thought that in an apocalyptic movie this would be flooded in dramatic fashion. (Yes, too many hours have been spent on this stretch of road). Anyway, back in ’04 we started counting bridges. Bridges 1-12 are normal, although bridge 8 has a metal sculpture of Ben Franklin that I originally mistook for Whoopi Goldberg. I know, I teach US History. We were a little shell shocked the first few (like, 27) times we made the drive, what can I say? Bridges 10-12 are closer together. 13 is a larger overpass, and thus must be said “Thirteeeeeeeeeeeeen”. Right after that come a quick 14 & 15 and then we are on 76. Technically there’s an overpass right off the exit, but that one doesn’t count….get on 76 and take a deep breath, here comes a massive “Sixteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen” which you can only get through on one breath if we are able to drive at 50 miles per hour.

Nearly 8 years later, we still do this. But the crazy thing is that now, sometimes, kid #2 is asleep when we get to the bridges…and in my head, I still count. In my head, the weird sing-song counting continues. Even without her voice Actually coming from the back seat, I hear her.
This weirdly comforts me, even as I am slightly bugged that I am compelled to count.

On any interstate trip we also have to say the name of the state we are leaving really fast and repeatedly right before the state line…then you finish with the new state. So on our trips to the hospital that plays out as NewJerseyNewJerseyNewJerseyNewJerseyNewJerseyNewJersey PENNSYLVANIA! …and then in reverse on the way back. This is more challenging in New England, the state names are so long and full of consonants (try Connecticut to Massachusetts or reversed. Eek!). But again, even if the kids are sleeping, I find myself doing this ridiculous thing.

Finally, my kid #3 recently brought home a new car ritual, the “FEDEX I SEE THE ARROW!” contest. If you see a Fed Ex truck, you have to be the first person to spot the arrow in the logo (did you know there is one? I never knew until kid #3 showed me)…and then YELL “FEDEXISEETHEARROW!” as fast as you can. For the visually impaired kid in the car, the rules are adjusted, she can yell “FedEx I see the truck!” since I am not sure she has EVER figured out where the arrow is.

Now, even when I drive alone, I mentally keep track of all the FedEx trucks I see. Note to all, somewhere in the middle of Massachusetts there must be a FedEx facility near 495, because we saw about 10 in 4 minutes. To be more accurate, Momma saw about 10 in 4 minutes (oh yeah!).

For some reason, this mental monologue that happens whenever I drive is a comfort to me. Somehow I know, that even in the crazy disconnectedness that is so plaguing me right now, I AM deeply connected to my kids. This silly little thing isn’t the most meaningful moment ever, obviously, but it ‘s kind of like that little smile across the room that brightens your day…a little connection that reminds me that even as I flounder through my days, I am so blessed to have these children who are so deeply engraved on my heart.

Do you have any silly rituals like these? Not like I need to add more (I am so going to add more) , but…we’re not the only ones who do these things, right? Right? Bueller? ; )


  1. My kids do the same with Volkswagon cars - punch bob and try to punch the other kid in the arm. Brett (who was 21) was doing this as we drove him to the airport to go spend two years overseas.Mitch has now flown the nest but when shopping yesterday automatically went to put his special foods in the trolley. So you are not alone!!! Though you know that
    Love and prayers

  2. oh, my, yes...I still count the horses in a particular field, on my trip to the mall.
    '12 horses today, honey'...Last week they were all wearing blankets; 2, of course, were purple blankets. Hoping I don't morph into naming all the colors, as I count, although last trip I managed a cell-phone picture! Made hubby smile. (didn't send pic while driving!)...seeyou...D.