Routine bad, routine good

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

That’s the routine as presented by Ma Ingalls in Little House in the Big Woods. The guy and I have talked about this a few times, and this week, trying to regain the keen and altogether handy atmosphere of calm and serenity that comes with most attempts to follow a Waldorf approach to homeschooling, I’ve made real efforts to re-establish the most mighty of important things, Rhythm.

First we decided to set up our own week-a-day task list. For instance, Thursday. We don’t regularly churn butter (though we did try it last week! And we did make butter. It was sobering in its reality), so Thursday as churning day was out. I don’t iron anything that usually contain body parts, so Tuesday had to change. And so forth. So here’s our modified list:

Wash on Monday
Vacuum on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Mop and Dust on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday (except Daddy, who cleans the bathroom)

You see the logic, I’m sure. Yes, of course I sometimes (okay, two cats? often) vacuum more than once a week. But Tuesday is The Day for Vacuuming. The modifications had to be gentle; not too far off from Ma’s etched-in-stone listing, so Wednesday had to stay Mending. That one turned out to be acceptable, actually, because “mending,” it turns out, means “a catchall that includes reaffixing torn-off button eyes to Birthday Cat, hemming the new bathroom curtains or weaving in the ends of the most recent knitting project.”

This has been a hard week, but I think the routine/rhythm thing has actually helped, as evinced by his grasping at my intimating the advent of more rhythm and regularity in the form of regular breakfasts. (Yes, we feed him. Routinely, even.) This is my sneaky way of getting him to eat something other than cold cereal for breakfast. (This is an inordinate source of stress for me.) We’ve established foods for each breakfast of the week to go along with French Toast Sunday, and wee boy is so happy.

Which is good this week, because poor Geeklet has come down off of having his toddler cousin in the house for four days (oh joy, oh holy joyous joy! is his response to anything Baby Amelia related, so… yeah, coming down has been hard). He has thence rushed headlong into a cold that, while minor in the daylight hours, has turned his nighttimes into bronchial croupy nightmares. So, lots of odd and disturbed sleep patterns. Colds mean not visiting with friends, nor dance class, so the only regular activity this week was forest Monday, which wasn’t even normal, considering that TMoTH had the day off and joined us. Frabjous, certainly, but irregular.

TMoTH is on a business trip today, so even Saturday feels off; but the activities I normally reach for to engage him are evidently weekday activities. After trying all morning to engage the guy in any activity and having him be petulant, I wandered into the kitchen and practically yelled, “Hey! What day is it?”

“I don’t know.”

“What day is it?”

“Saturday.”

“And what day is Saturday?”

Blank stare. C’mon, I’m excited, work with me…

“What day is Saturday? I wash on Monday…”

Saturday is baking day. You know what’s regular? What is routine? Baking on Saturday. That’s routine. Ma Ingalls says so. Her rhythms have provenance. So the boy and I spent a few hours in the kitchen, mostly him talking to me while I baked, but with some interaction. We made a spiced applesauce cake and we made two very small apple pies, one about 5″ across (his) and another about 7-8″ across (mine). I was requested to make “apple pie that we can cut into wedges,” a reference to Almanzo Wilder in Farmer Boy quite often taking a wedge of apple pie with him when work made him leave his copious breakfasts early. I made them my favorite way, with no pie plate but with a rustic crust that turns up at the edge and partially enfolds the spicy-sweet inhabitants. I told him that it was the non-fancy way to make a crust, quick and useful.

Making the pie, and promising it for his tea in the afternoon, really sweetened the rest of the day. It seemed to flow pretty well, despite the Giant Looming Pile of Dishes that promised to eat my hands and one arm after boyo went to bed. I like to think that it helped him, knowing that this was the kind of thing we do on Saturday, and we will each Saturday, just like Ma and her family, from eating scrambled eggs to making bread or cake or whatever. He happily didn’t eat more than the crust from his pie, and as he nibbled that he says (inspired by our recent reading of Charlotte’s Web, no doubt, and happy to compliment our work):

“Mama, these are humble pies, aren’t they?”

Um, yes. I think they qualify.

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