The first week of school felt like a dress rehearsal for the new year: you know how it’s supposed to go, but you aren’t completely sure where to stand and you still forget some of your lines. At the beginning of the week, we were able to ride the wave of excitement that had our kids laying out their clothes the night before and organizing their backpacks. That lasted until about Wednesday. Slouching toward the end of the week, we were suffering from the cumulative effect of a summer full of late nights and lazy mornings. The logistics fatigue was already starting to set in. Who drops off, who picks up? Do we really have to do this again next week?
While I’m spending much of my time ruminating over the food situation – what they eat and when – the fact remains that the most challenging part of our day falls from 7:00 a.m. (when they are supposed to wake up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed) to 8:00 a.m. when we walk out the door. In the space of that hour, we are like their pit crew: feeding, dressing, administering ear drops, signing permission slips that I meant to do the night before, brushing teeth, finding shoes and then taking forever to actually put them on. Not to mention trying to figure out how to work in the clean-up, so we don’t return to a home that looks like the inhabitants were suddenly raptured mid-breakfast, leaving their congealed eggs and dripping syrup to those unlucky souls who were left behind and still have to make dinner. We’re still fine-tuning the routine.
This year, it remains a struggle to get our children going in the morning. They appear hard-wired to be night-owls, not early risers, and separating them from their beds is a struggle, sometimes one that ends up in the kind of drama that can ruin the whole day. It’s delicate. Last January, I wrote about how we lure our sleepy children out of bed with the promise of some kind of video – the watching of which is like their Virgil, leading them from drowsy crankiness to breakfast. Every time I would come across something funny or fascinating on YouTube that I think they would like, I would save it for the morning. We had a good time with the Daft Punk/Soul Train mash-up last year and they were strangely hypnotized by the Rita Indiana video, La Hora de Volver. Lately they have been grooving on some old episodes of the Monkees, but some mornings I got nothing.
Being hard pressed to dig up something novel every few days, I was delighted to come across my favorite new website, The Kid Should see This, a virtual treasure trove of strange and wonderful video clips culled from the Internet by photoblogger, Rion Nakaya. Back in 2011, she started collecting and cataloging many of the amazing videos floating around the Interwebs that are not made for kids, but that kids should most definitely see. It functions as an encyclopedia of wonders for the digital age, full of the kinds of things you want to share because they are beautiful or funny or jaw dropping. Clips like Ella Fitzgerald’s One Note Samba. Chico Marx playing the piano, Charles and Ray Eames’ Power of Ten from 1977, or the hauntingly beautiful Five More Minutes that we watched this morning.
The site is artfully designed and organized into eight categories: Science, Technology, Space, Animals, Food, DIY, Music, Art and Animation. Each video is then annotated and tagged with descriptive subject headings like, How things are made, Flight, or Instruments. The librarian in me loves this. It’s an example of all that is good about the web, and she has already collected so many that we could probably wake our children with a different one each day until we pack them off to college. Even better, you can subscribe to her email list and receive five videos every week.
So it has become our happy ritual each morning to entice our somnolent progeny from the bed to the sofa, where we gather for a few minutes to watch something astounding or hilarious or just plain strange together and by the end of the clip they are usually ready to move into the day. Of course, this doesn’t mean it all goes perfectly from there. That there aren’t complaints about the eggs or that things don’t fall apart in those crucial last minutes (from lost Legos to the wrong socks), but for a few minutes every morning, the day is lovely and full of wonder.