It's risky to run from routine

Originally Appeared in : 9917-8/15-19

Summer is great for swimming, grilling and vacationing, but it’s horrible for little people who thrive on routine.


That may explain why Magan starts our school year the second week of July.


Even with her preemptive attempt to slow the summer discipline swoon, it wasn’t enough to prevent the early stages of anarchy from slipping into our house. Chores were being sloughed, mouths were becoming mouthy, and attitudes were closing in on Antarctica.


At one point, Isaac and AnnaMarie were volleying barbs at each other from opposite corners of the foyer as they each sat in the corner in trouble for arguing. It was rough.


It didn’t help that Taekwondo practice had also been shifted to evening–only sessions, which only lessened our ability to return supper and bedtimes to more familiar norms.


We were struggling to maintain order.


A kiddie–pool birthday party at my sister’s threatened to further interfere with our return to normalcy.


Surprisingly, the kids acted decently for the majority of the party, with only one timeout required to stop Isaac from cannonballing into the kiddie pool like Will Ferrell in “Anchorman.” On the way home, though, nobody really napped. 


Ruthie whimpered and cried for most of the three–hour drive home as we hurried to get back in time for Mass. She carried it over not long after the final verses of “Gather Your People” was segued to Father Tom’s opening prayers.


Meanwhile inside, Eli randomly dabbed (it’s a dance move) during the Gloria and the Apostles’ Creed, and AnnaMarie made some squeaking sound on the pew that sounded like a sound effect from a horror movie.


Despite the distractions, I managed to hear the thesis of Father Tom’s homily, though, and his words reinforced the value of routine for our daily and spiritual lives.


Father Tom relayed Pope Benedict’s reminder to all Catholics that the routine of regular Mass attendance was central to our faith, and that was reinforced by Pope Francis two years ago.
“We Christians need to participate in Sunday Mass because only with the grace of Jesus, with his living presence in us and among us, can we put into practice his commandment, and thus be his credible witnesses,” Pope Francis said.


As parents, it can be easy for us to succumb to the guilt the world heaps on our shoulders to make sure our kids are having fun by straying from routine, including foregoing Mass for summer distractions.


The Bible says this pull to stray from routine is ultimately a battle between flesh and Spirit: “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:17).


Hopefully our return to routine will lead to more than just an end to dabbing in church, or visits to the corner, and instead keep our kids on track for an eternity of summer fun with the Son.
Based on Jesse’s third return trip to the kitchen, however, it may be a few more weeks before floor sweeping becomes part of those routines.


Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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