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  • Kirk

Welcome back, normal

I took an introductory course to mass communications my first semester in college. The discussion during one of the first classes revolved around news. The professor who taught the course told the class no one would read a story with a headline stating that he had gone to work and had a lovely day.

I’m a little more than 30 years removed from taking that course, and to be honest, the professor telling us what news isn’t is about the only thing I remember about it, or for that matter most of my mass communication courses (I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications, and I think the statute of limitations to revoke it has long since passed). But today, I still can hear his monotone voice as he stood at the front of the lecture hall: “Zobin goes to work, has lovely day!” It’s boring, yet there’s something about it that is very calming to me. It implies normalcy. Sameness. Routine.

And that’s where today finds our family: getting back to normal and resettling into our daily routine after Christmas break.

I’ll wake up Nolan around 6:20 and help him with his morning routine. The school bus will pull up in front of our house at 7:05-ish and I’ll walk Nolan out to it. The paraprofessional who rides the bus will ask how we’re doing as Nolan finds his seat. The bus will take Nolan to school. Cindy will leave for work around 7:30. I’ll go on my morning run, shower, eat breakfast, and enjoy some down time since I don’t work again until Wednesday. I’ll pick up Nolan from school at 2:50 and bring him home because we’re giving him a couple extra days off from his after-school program. Cindy likely will be home sometime after 5. We’ll eat dinner. Cindy will help Nolan with his nighttime routine. Hopefully we’ll all be asleep before 10.

“The Beys go about their lives, have lovely day!” Dr. Zobin, who passed on more than 20 years ago, likely is looking down on me, shaking his head, and asking if I learned anything in his class. Grab the reader’s attention with a newsworthy story, he’d say. “Man bites dog!” (It’s actually happened several times – look it up). “Nolan bites dad!” (It’s happened, though thankfully not recently). “Teenage son with Autism finally makes mom and dad go off the deep end!” (Quite possibly a future topic either Cindy and I will write about the way we’re going).

You don’t get any of that today. This post is all about welcoming back routine. It’s a beautiful sight. I’d hug and kiss it and buy it dinner if I could.

December makes me cringe, especially as Christmas gets closer. Granted, I know changes in routines occur with a lot of families during the holiday season, and we’re no different. Two of Cindy’s friends from college always visit her about two weeks before Christmas. This year Cindy’s sister and brother-in-law flew in from Virginia for a few days. Cindy left work early Christmas Eve day and was off Christmas Day. We went to church Christmas Eve, and to Cindy’s mom’s house Christmas Day. Cindy went back to work the 26th. She was off yesterday. I moved my morning run to 5:30 last week.

Discombobulation comes with the territory in December – sometimes I feel like The Dude, Jeff Bridges’ character in “The Big Lebowski” (“Is this a … what day is this?”). But as out-of-sync as I feel for a few weeks, Nolan has to be wondering what the hell is going on (“Why are we going to church on a Tuesday night? That’s a Sunday thing.” “Mom was home yesterday. Why is she gone today?”). We do our best to prep him for what’s coming, but it’s still a challenge.

And I have to admit it’s difficult to have Nolan home for nearly two weeks when there’s no school or after-school program. I couldn’t interest him in my bowling game from the 1970s. He didn’t want to watch “Leave It To Beaver” with me (“But son, this is the one where Gilbert tricks Beaver into making a face on the class picture. It’s a classic!”). That’s not saying we didn’t do things together. We made a couple of trips to Dunkin’ Donuts. I got him to go into a couple of thrift stores with me, and he went in to both places willingly. But yes, Nolan has had a lot of down time lately. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, because he works hard and deserves a break.

How well will Nolan transition back to school today? Part of me thinks he’ll welcome being busy for 7½ hours, and part of me is grateful there are only two days of school this week. He’s got five months left as a middle schooler. He’ll have his fair share of difficult moments along the way, and you’ll read about a lot of them. I tell people, half-jokingly, I wish our lives were a little less exciting.

But our lives have gotten back to normal this morning. It’s not what you would call newsworthy, but it sure is a nice feeling.

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