Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Family's Keeper

One of the roles I least like in my family and one that seems to have been mine for many years is that of "keeper." By keeper, I mean the person who keeps everyone on track, at both the micro and the macro level. I know, for example, when the first field trip is, and I know when the soccer games are and when back to school night is and when school is out for 1/2 day. I'm also the one who makes doctor's and dentist's appointments (obviously). I actually make Mr. Geeky's appointments for him because if I don't, an appendage is likely to fall fall off (no, not that one), or a tumor will take over his body. As an example, after months of watching him squint while reading and doing the arm telescoping thing, I called the eye doctor, because after prodding him to do it for months, I knew he would never do it.

On the micro level, I'm the one waking everyone up in the morning, making lunches, prodding kids to take showers and eat breakfast, gather school materials and find soccer socks. I try to get the gathering to happen the night before, but alas, it's hardly ever successful. On the plus side, I don't have to do this for Mr. Geeky, though I do have to remind him to eat lunch. Geeky Boy has actually taken to texting him when he goes to lunch.

All this tracking is exhausting. Periodically, I've tried to extract myself from tracking everyone, but when I have done this, it's always an epic fail. A kid is late to school, forgets an important assignment, can't go on a field trip, or only has milk for lunch. And when I was working, it totally pissed me off because I myself was in a hurry getting ready and getting ready for something I didn't always enjoy so that I wasn't in a good mood to begin with.

Yesterday, as I was downstairs making lunches (peanut butter and banana, fruit, and a bag of pretzels), I realized that Geeky Boy was not down for breakfast yet. So, I stopped in the middle of spreading peanut butter, walked upstairs, poked my head in our bedroom where Mr. Geeky is catching up on email and reading the news, and said to him, "You know, when I'm downstairs making lunch for the kids, you could make sure Geeky Boy is on his way down and poke him if he needs to be poked." "Okay, okay, all you have to do is ask." And this morning, I didn't have to ask. A small victory.

After school is a similar scenario of checking on homework, requesting rooms to be cleaned, and asking for help with chores.

The thing is, I know that I don't have to be the morning keeper. Geeky Girl needs no keeping. She sets her alarm in the morning and comes down to get breakfast on her own. She often eats in our bedroom, chatting with us while she eats. She gets dressed, gets her school stuff together and gets out the door to the bus stop without any prompting from us. She has a strict schedule--which she made up herself--for after school activities. First is homework, then violin practice, then soccer practice. Though I check in with her, I never have to prod.

I don't know how I ended up in this role. I didn't want it, for sure. It could be because I've always been the one with the 9-5 job and so kept a regular schedule. It could be that I'm more organized than the rest of my family. Or it could everyone else is lazy. I don't know. But my goal is to ease my way out of this role. I don't mind having to check on everyone with gentle reminders. What I don't like is the feeling that I'm the only one thinking of these things. So, I'm going to do a couple of things in the next couple of days. One, I'm getting Geeky Boy an alarm clock. Two, I'm going to set him up with Google Calendar--which Mr. Geeky is using too and makes some of this tracking sooo much easier. I'm sure there's more I can do. Ideas welcome!