Echoes in the Kitchen

This morning I got up quietly while it was still dark, dressed and walked downstairs for the normal habit loop when I paused in the kitchen, hearing echoes. I glanced at the clock, used to it’s mocking, but it stayed on topic this early, offering up 6:20 AM. I looked around, placed my hands on the island countertop, and felt it… Sandwich assembly lines, the loud themed (naturally) playlists designed to inspire the sandwich maker and stir the zombies for the final dash to the bus or, later, to their car(s) for the ride to school. First call usually led to second call and third, and the tactics changed with the runway shrinking for a successful launch. Clapping as I walked up the stairs became the final straw, and they’d finally be up and sort of moving.

That assembly line of sandwiches, the bin of snacks to dump in the bag with them and the drink all placed in a bag was a luxury for my kids, and they knew it. Some of their friends either made their own lunch or went hungry that day. You learn quickly to make the lunch, but I usually put enough in the bag to share food with those who needed it. There’s always someone a little hungry nearby, if you pay attention.

Living on a cul de sac meant having a second chance at the bus if you missed it going up the street. That came in handy many times, especially with the second child. But it saved me on many occasions too with curbside trash and recycling. Miss it going up? Drag it across the street and catch them on the way down. Bless you, cul de sac. I’m reminded of the scramble when the bus rolls up the street. No longer my scramble, I glance casually at the streak of yellow flashing from one window to the next, sip my coffee and return to work.

There’s a tweet being passed around about only having 18 summers with your kids before they’re off doing their own thing. The adrenaline rush of getting the kids to school before you go off to work is an even shorter window. Is it a relief to not have the timed sandwich assembly line game before the weasel pops? Absolutely. Has the habit loop that filled the void made me more productive in other things? No doubt. I don’t miss the mad dash, but the muscle memory is still there. I’m proud to have co-managed the responsibility well enough that the sandwich eaters are productive members of society. Though I still hear the echoes now and then.

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