No Broken Bats
As is so often the case, I take my cue from the sites I visit. Recently, I paused at Buttered Toast Rocks, and read about schedules, especially the one in the morning. The morning schedule is crucial because, as goes the morning, often goes the rest of the day, at least here in the country.
I am not going to prattle on about how hard teachers work, or about long hours. Work happens. However, it can either flow smoothly, or it can feel as though you are driving on washboard, the pace rattling the teeth in your jaw. Therefore, it pays to take the time to examine a way to make events flow smoothly, avoiding any conflicts that may threaten to occur.
All the years we taught, Annie’s and my day began at quarter to four, when I brought her coffee in bed. Forty-five minutes later, as the household still slept, we stormed out the front door for our walk up to Blue Rock, a forty minute round trip. Upon returning, still in the pre-dawn darkness, Annie would shower first, because she had to dry her hair, and then it was my turn. I would then get the first boy up for his shower, he got the second one up, and that one rousted the third. If any one of the boys was slow getting out of bed, the next in line would pounce. They kept each other on pace, because the last one through was usually on tepid water, so there was incentive.
He who hesitated was lost. I made it clear that the chariot departed at six-thirty on the nose, and if you weren’t ready, you stayed home. If you stayed home, the list of required chores was clearly posted, and there was no generator available, so therefore, no entertainment system. Since Gameboys were not allowed into the house until the youngest was in middle school, that left few options for spending a day by yourself.
Besides the order of operations in the bathroom, the other conflict-producing setting, was the half-hour ride to school, the first half on a dirt road, the second half on the highway. Annie and I rode in the front of our Trooper, and the three of them rode in the back. Whose turn was it to sit in the middle? We went by weeks, with one in the middle for a whole week, and the other two on the windows. End of discussion.
We had such a tight framework, that there simply was no time for arguing. Three sons, born within thirty-eight months of each other, not fight? Excuse me while I pause a moment to chortle. However, in our household, violence of every form was decried, including verbal, if you will pardon the pun. My response to an argument within my hearing, was to assign chores to the responsible miscreants. You-fill the wood-box; you-wash the car, and if it was a hat trick (or a strike out), the third one would be out gathering kindling off the side of the hill, the consequences being carried out before even homework was attended to, upon our return home.
Consider it a two-fer: Either the the arguing ceased [within my earshot], or the chores got done. Such a system. I couldn’t have contrived a better one if my life depended on it. If not my life, certainly my sanity did, the status of which was clearly dependent on a harmonious domain. Think of it as, “Play ball with me, or I’ll break the bat over your head, metaphorically speaking.” That was about as violent as I got: using a literary devise to make a point.
It seemed to work though, which was gratifying, because the only bats around were aluminum, so getting hit over the head with one, would definitely have resulted in a stint on the disabled list of life.