If I Were Being Stalked by a Serial Killer, I’d Be a Goner

Suzie Spoon - Serial Killer

Suzie Spoon – Serial Killer (Photo credit: What What)

I love routine. My movements could be easily mapped. My patterns of behavior would be predictable.

Each day of every week looks pretty much the same. Some of you are already thinking:  BORING. But I’m of the school of thought that structure can be liberating. It maybe infinitesimal but it’s liberating none the less.

I AM A CREATURE OF HABIT! And proud of it. But it would make me an easy mark.

Weekday mornings I am “Major Mom” barking out orders like a drill instructor:

  • Eat
  • Brush
  • Dress
  • Shoes
  • Bags
  • Car
  •  NOW.
  • Move

My kids like “routine” too even if they won’t admit it. Okay, honestly, I’m sure they’d prefer Mommy taking a less militant approach but this is the only one I’ve got. Anyway, they like knowing what to expect next. (My husband is the adventurous, no script required, one in our household.)

I take the same route to work every day … at the same times. If I have to make stops, I plan them so that I don’t have to deviate much.

Back-to-School this year has been torture because nothing is routine. Why?

I’ve spent most of the past year getting just me out the door. Sure I woke the boys and fed them and laid out their clothes but hubby handled getting them out the door (which is the hardest part). I was comfortable.

Now I am managing it all including drop offs. To a new school. That’s in a different direction. And Tuesdays and Thursdays are different than Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, thanks to 3 day a week kindergarten.

I am totally freaking out. It’s only been 4 days and we haven’t hit our stride which makes me weary.

Have you ever heard the 21-days-to-a-new-habit philosophy? You know, the theory that it takes 21 days of practicing something in order to forma new habit; for it to become automatic. It’s heavily touted in the world of motivation.

I’ve never made it to day 21 for any specific action or behavior that I wanted to make a habit. Mostly because I lose track; stop counting the days but keep practicing. Continued practice can lead to operating on autopilot. Let me be honest … I usually give up. Because I want results now … I don’t want to wait 21 days or longer.

I begin this new school year in the mode of trial and error which is driving me insane. Like pull my hair out, curl up in a ball, and suck my thumb, kind of crazy.

Best routes from the new school to work? I don’t know. Not yet. Best path with the least traffic to the new school from home? Not sure. Yet. Best way to get back to school and pick up the dudes? No, idea. At least, not yet.

There is one plus in all this uncertainty:  I am safe from any would be stalkers. Each day has been different.

Like yesterday morning when my youngest said, “I forgot my water battle in Daddy’s car.”
To which I replied, “You left it at home?”
“No. I left it in Daddy’s car.”
“Which is at home. Do you really need it?”
“Yes,” through tears.

I went back to the house to get it. Why? Because he’s already struggling with starting kindergarten and this gave him peace of mind. Because that’s the kind of mom I am. Because, like I said, I’m crazy.

Or, like Wednesday when we had to go by the sitters to pick up the new hoodie my youngest left there because he needed it for the first day of school. “It’s part of my uniform.” It didn’t matter that it was already 80 degrees out. We took the detour to get it.

Take that serial stalker … you’ll have to wait a few months for me to figure out my routine. Then you can pick the best spot to nab me. Okay … seriously … I prefer not to be stalked or killed or kidnapped.

Alright, fess up. What routines are you not willing to let go of? What habits do you wish you could keep the same but are forced into changing? I can’t be the only one bordering on the obsessive compulsive.

 

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Kindergarten Lessons: Hooked on Ebonics?

The book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum is celebrating its 15th anniversary. I have yet to read the book but often hear it quoted in motivational speeches or leadership training. The quotes are always good and so the book is on my “to read” list.

For me though, one of the best lessons I learned was not in kindergarten but rather in the sixth grade. However, the lesson was taught to me by a friend I met in kindergarten. Our academic careers took us K through 12 together and I am fortunate enough to still be in touch with her.

The lesson is invaluable.

B:  Do you want to come to my sleepover?
Me:  Sure but I have to ask my mom. [Note:  ask = ax]
B:  You what?
Me:  I have to ask my mom. [Note:  still ask = ax]
B:  Why is she going to chop down a tree?
Me:  What?
B:  There’s an “s” in it. It’s not ax, it’s ask. Axes are for chopping down trees.

Sadly, I hadn’t noticed all those long years that I was saying it wrong. I was mortified. I remember going home and practicing in front of the mirror; watching the shape of my mouth and the movement of my tongue so I could see the difference and break the cycle.

It wasn’t just about making it sound right but it was about breaking a habit of saying it wrong every time I used it. Practicing in the mirror helped create a trigger even for the times when I wasn’t staring at myself and feeling small because I had been clueless for so long.

That’s not the only word I found myself standing in front of the mirror over. That’s the year I learned to read out loud so I could learn how to correctly pronounce words. Sounding out the unfamiliar. That’s the year I learned to use the dictionary to see the syllables for the purpose of phonics. I never wanted to be in the situation again where someone needed to correct me. But, sad to say it wasn’t the last time (my tenth grade English teacher introduced me to the term ebonics but that’s another story for another time).

If it helps put things in perspective … when it came time for reading in school, I started out in the lowest level for my grade. I had to work my way up. I was an avid reader by the time I reached the sixth grade. I was reading and comprehending at the ninth and tenth grade level. But apparently that didn’t translate to my verbal communication skills.

So today … I am hypersensitive to certain words, I’ll just name a few:

  • Incorrect use of the verb “to be”
  • Ask = Ax
  • Mine = Mines [showing ownership]
  • Folks = Fokes

My youngest says “mines” and I am working on him. But you can understand the challenge coming from a 5 year old.

There are adults who didn’t have a kindergarten friend who loved them enough or cared enough about them to give them the same feedback. Surprisingly, I interact with professionals who haven’t mastered the lesson I learned in sixth grade.

  • Professionals who give presentations to large audiences.
  • Professionals whose jobs fall in a communication or training discipline yet they misspell, mispronounce or misuse forms of words.
  • Professionals who are educated i.e. undergrad, post graduate and doctorates.

I haven’t quite figured out how to tell some of these adults in my life of their errors. Are they too set in their ways to change now? At 12, I was still impressionable; willing and able to change. Would it work out in adult learning? I don’t know. I’m open to suggestions for ways to share the same feedback in a loving way. If you have any ideas, pass them along.

If it hadn’t been for this friend, I’d be among their ranks:  “I be axing away in the mines with these fokes”. Unaware of my faux pa … Tragic.

Call my sixth grade friend’s feedback a form of care for me or call it the carefree nature of youth (that she would say whatever was on her mind). Whatever you call it, what a great service she provided me that day by telling me the truth.

So, from the kindergarten class favorite with pierced ears to the kindergarten class favorite without pierced ears – you know who you are – Thank you for not letting me become a statistic of poor language skills.