Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Order Rules

April is shaping up to be a very big month. Birthdays, some travel plans, and, of course, lots of work. My general routine has been shaken up quite a bit which is proving to be challenging when it comes to getting anything really done. You know what I mean, right? The extra-long weekend away or the doctor's appointment during your usual writing time or the lunch meeting outside are all innocent enough, except when they're back to back to back and all of a sudden you've gotten no writing done for a week.

I was speaking to a close friend of mine and kindergarten teacher about this over the weekend. I was lamenting a bit about my schedule, how whenever I become lax in my day structure everything seems to fall apart, and we started to chat about children. Routine is unbelievably important in the early years of life. Yes, childhood is about free expression and exploration but there is a reason the garden is the consummate metaphor of childhood. Children need to feel free to run wild, but in the confines of safety and order. In other words, routine is key. So much of life at that age is new and scary. The magnitude of things a four year old comes in contact with over the course of a day that they fail at is overwhelming. Having a structure and a routine creates a sense of accomplishment and peace. It allows children to succeed at the small things like how to tie their shoelaces and knowing where the crayons are for free drawing time. It's also the reason I love to write children's books. The beautiful simplicity the picture book form allows is something I have always gravitated towards. How best can we tell a story with the fewest words? How can we pay tribute to the ever-present themes of childhood? How can we, at the end of the day, create something that will last?

The experience of childhood changes from generation to generation, certainly, but those beginning years remain the most untouched. They don't know how to work ipads yet (well, maybe some do!) or care that pizza has hydrogenated fat. To them, life is magic. Yes, frustrating and confusing and at times terrifying, but new, and exciting. Everything is an adventure.

Order helps them to feel secure in the wild of this world. To know there are certain things they can count on, even if the rest of life fails them. My guess? It would help us, too. What are the things in your life you need in order to feel safe, fulfilled, content? Make sure they don't leave your day. I'm going to try.

Have a great day,


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