Probably one of the biggest arguments in our household has to do with scheduling and following routines. Despite having spent most of his adult years in the armed forces, Roostler is one of the most unstructured people I know. Perhaps he simply left all of that behind once he traded in the uniform for civilian life. Or, maybe he is desperately clinging to that last shred of freedom he enjoyed as a bachelor. He did manage to maintain this freedom into his late 30s, after all.
Life with me, however, involves following a schedule. It has to. Between work, kids, and school, my life is dictated by who has to be where and what has to be done that day. And when Roostler wants to do something that does not easily fit the day’s schedule, he becomes frustrated. As do I. No, we can’t go to Home Depot right now because Omelette gets out of school in half an hour, and then we have to take Early Bird to her well-child check. Yes, I realize you need the car to get what you need, but I can’t put the kids in your car. We had all morning to go. Why didn’t you say something then? These things need to be planned. His response is always the same — Don’t hold me to a schedule, woman!
What he fails to grasp is that managing a family means following some sort of routine. Unplanned trips to Home Depot are a thing of the past. A trip out of town that once meant throwing some extra underwear in the car now means making lists and packing at least a day in advance. And asking what he is going to that day is not an attempt to keep tabs on him. It is simply me trying to figure out how his plans work with mine. Yet, even with this logical explanation, the fight continues…
What’s worse is when Roostler’s aversion to structure interferes with the kids’ routine. Early Bird’s nap is a prime example of this. He is very rarely the one to negotiate nap time, but there are those times when he is, and I am glad to have some relief. The problem, though, is that he just does not do things the way I do them. And the results are often disastrous.
This weekend, I had some work to do, so while I was busy, he looked after Early Bird. From the office, I could hear that she was being given something to eat in the dining room. I was just finishing up my work as he was clearing up the mess and readying her for the dreaded nap. I had intended to put her down myself, but he seemed to have things under control, so I took the opportunity to put my feet up and settle in with one of the books I have yet to finish. No sooner had he closed the door than she was up and padding down the hallway after him. He returned her (kicking and screaming) to her bed and then sat down at the table to start his homework. Two minutes later, he was heading back to the bedroom to lie down with her. In our bed. I resisted the urge to interfere, and finally he emerged from the bedroom to get back to his homework.
Curious, I snuck back to the bedroom to see the results of his efforts. There was Early Bird playing with a flashlight in our bed. I took the flashlight from her and put her in her own bed. She protested to both.
“Why didn’t you just leave her?” Roostler inquired upon my return to the couch. “She was happy.’
“She wasn’t napping,” I responded.
I reluctantly read her a story about ten rubber ducks that get lost at sea. Then she wanted to read the story for herself. The nap was not looking so good. I left her with the book and asked Roostler if she had eaten lunch.
“I gave her a peach and graham crackers, but she didn’t eat them.”
“That’s not lunch.”
So now my toddler had not eaten lunch or had a nap. And I am no closer to finishing that book.
After a peanut butter sandwich, some goldfish crackers, and a kiwi, Early Bird went to sleep with no fuss. No kicking and screaming. No running down the hall after me. No additional requests for a story.
Why can’t he do that? It’s not that hard to give her some lunch and put her down for a nap, is it? (Just like it’s not that hard to figure out that you can’t make a Home Depot run half an hour before the kid gets out of school.) I guess I just have to accept that it’s not his routine. And that there will never be time in my schedule to finish a book without pictures.