Christina M. Currie: Creatures of habit

Children are creatures of habit. They like schedules and routines.

I can understand that. When you're a kid, you feel like there are few things in your life that you have total control over.

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Actually, make that none.

Six-year-old Katie cries when I tell her that she needs to stop growing.

"Then I'll never get big and have a baby so that I can be in charge!"

She doesn't realize I was joking, and I don't realize how much emphasis children place on having control of something -- in some form.

I should, I'd like that, too. I'm not sure that I ever actually am "in charge."

But, it makes me sad to hear her say that.

So, we've had our days when my two girls are "in charge."

They get to sort the laundry, mop the floors and do the dishes.

You wonder why they aren't in charge every day, huh?

We'll first of all, they don't do a very good job. Second, they also get to choose when they eat, what they eat and how they eat it.

As an alternative, I like to make sure they know what to expect in their daily lives. It helps them to feel a little more in control when things are changing in ways they don't understand and for reasons they can't fathom.

Each month we make a calendar and mark the important events -- school days and days with no school.

Each night they mark off a day.

It's become a routine for that helps us all settle in to what is really a very hectic lifestyle.

We have a lot of routines. Some that make sense and are geared toward empowering the girls or making them feel more comfortable.

Others have no rhyme or reason and pretty much just make us look foolish.

Five-year-old Nikki is the biggest supporter.

"Ready Freddy?" I ask.

"Sure George," she replies.

Indignant I say, "I'm not George!"

To which she responds, "Well, I'm not Freddy!"

Don't ask. I don't know how it started. It just is.

Every time I drive to the mailbox the girls yell, "You missed our house!"

To which I'm expected to bellow "doh!" Homer Simpson style.

It really depresses Katie when I miss their cue.

I also have to haul Nikki up two flights of stairs every morning because, ever since I told her she was too heavy and pretended to fall backward every third step, it's become our ritual.

It takes a lot more energy than just hauling her small frame up the stairs, but now I'm committed.

Oh, and it includes a required debate about how heavy she really is.

"You're a brick," I tell her.

"I'm a feather," she says.

Then she thinks for a second and says, "A leaf." I say, "a tree."

Sometimes she gets a little strange.

"Light bulb."

Ummm, "light pole?"

I don't know if it's the humor or that those rituals give children a feeling of security or even a little bit control of everyday situations.

I'll look goofy any day to give them that.

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