Saturday, May 31, 2014

Those Morning Routines

Growing up my dad was the one - most of the time - that would get me and my siblings to school in the morning.  From the time I was in elementary school and we had to catch the school bus in our neighborhood with the rest of the neighborhood kids, to middle school and high school with early morning zero period call times, my dad would drive us the five minuets to school.  As anyone might imagine, most mornings were the same and not many truly stick out in my mind.  Yet there are some moments or quirks of my dad I do look back on and can indeed recall.

First, I gotta say no child is ever a natural born "morning person," and was the case for my siblings and I! My dad though - having plenty of years of practice waking up early and brewing his cup of Joe - was well adjusted to the task. Matter of fact, come to think of it, my mom always had a rough time waking up in the morning; which now makes sense that my dad took that role of morning Sargent.

It always started like clock work: 5:30a.m. would roll around and was the time my dad would flick our bedroom lights on and tell us all in bunk-beds to raise and shine.  Always protesting that 5:30a.m was far too early, us kids would say 30 more minuets; 20 more minutes; 5 more minutes.  After each snooze, he'd come back progressively more aggressive; and those aggressive snooze alarms might be flickering of our bedroom lights as he'd make his voice just a little louder as he'd bellow "raise and shine;" or he'd come in banging pots and pans; maybe (if he was feeling mischievous) he'd put ice cubs in our beds, on our necks, down our pajamas; my favorite was when he BLASTED and I really mean blasted the classic William Tell Overture. Lemme tell you: no pillow can muffle the sound of that symphony; so we always resigned to roll outta bed with our groggy faces, and bed head hair.

I'll never forget how he'd walk us the 5 blocks to our bus stop: bare foot, and half dressed for work; the slacks would be on, but a t-shirt would often be substituted for the button down and tie, hair might be combed.  My best memory - now in retrospect - of those morning walking to the bus stop was the morning my dad stood up for my older sister and me.
Just to give a bit of background information: my family and I don't have an ounce of olive skin blood; we are half Irish and the rest is northern European.  So that tells you we burn fairly easily and at best we get freckles.  Living in Orange County where olive and tan skin is considered a desirable trait, we were kind of the black sheep (well conversely actually) when in came down to this feature.  Walking home after school, after the bus would drop us off in the afternoon at the same morning spot we'd have some of the older kids pick on us and call us names like "Casper the Friendly Ghost;" or taunt us to "get a tan." Being 9 and 10 years old and never experiencing any level of bullying I did what most kids did at that age and in those days: I didn't respond and tried to ignore the teasing.  Well, it got to a point where my sister and I vented to my parents about it. dad sure had something to say about the teasing and taunting.  One of those morning - barefoot and disheveled hair - my dad walked us to the bus stop, waited for us and all the other kids to get on the bus, and proceeded to ask the bus driver if he could address all of us grade school kiddos.  His little speech made me slouch in my bus seat...
"Can I get your attention please.  It's my understanding that there are some of you kids that are teasing and taunting my children; calling them Casper and such.  I'll have you know that, that is bullying, and if you continue this behavior, I will take it up with the schools principal and have those of you expelled!"  He thanked the bus driver, proceeded off the bus, and I could feel the tension in the bus increase by 10! Literally it was one of the moments I could feel everyone's eyes on the back of my neck.  As the bus door closed shut and before we drove off, my childhood friend Steven, yelled some antagonistic comedic remark to myself and all to hear.  He was good at cracking jokes in the middle of tension - he was our class clown after all.

Other morning memories - not as memorable - surely stick out in my mind.  Like all the times my dad (especially when we'd be running late) would slow down at a green light after driving a motorcycle for years and being conditioned to anticipate cars cutting him off. There was the time, my dad ran a red light, from a full on stop.  Or the time in junior high when I talked to my dad for the first time about a boyish crush, and he told me to be myself, and that the best kind of relationships - and loves for that matter - come from friendships.

It was a simple morning routine, being woken up by my dad, and spending that time with him; be it the morning walk to the bus stop as a shy girl who wore over-sized clothes, or a preteen or teenager who enjoyed the occasional conversation or mishap in the morning with my dad.  It's a routine I took for granted; a routine I would relive in a heartbeat (even if in a fleeting dream); a routine I often think about and rewind in my head on my own - now - morning routines.

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