He Was Early.

After a long, long winter break, I knew my kids were not looking forward to going back to school. I’d like to say that I did something really cool, like cool moms do, and made their first day back fun or – at the very least – not routine.

Instead, I pushed them right back into the routine. I made sure their lunchboxes were on the counter before they went to bed. I reminded them to set their alarms and warned them that I wasn’t going to wake them up. (This was mostly for Dylan, who gets up two hours before Shane has to get up. Shane gets up without an alarm anyway on most days.)

Then I tried to get myself to sleep at a reasonable time, and didn’t stress as much as I normally do. I did jump back out of bed to do a few things – although I can’t remember what they were – and finally fell asleep in time to get my allotted six hours.

When I woke up, it was still dark – as it is, most days, in the winter. I checked the clock to make sure I’d set the alarm right. I was exhausted, but I crawled out of bed. I brushed my teeth and my hair, changed my clothes to get ready for the gym, and slogged downstairs.

And there was Dylan.

The lights were all on in the kitchen, and Dylan was slathering peanut butter onto a piece of whole wheat potato bread. He’d gotten downstairs before me – something I’d never seen, on any day.

He’s making his own lunch, I thought. Normally, this is a punishment. If the kids forget to put their lunchboxes on the counter, for example, they are required to make their own lunch. Dylan’s forgotten enough that he rarely forgets anymore.

Did he forget last night? I asked myself – and realized in the same instant, No. He didn’t forget. It’s the first day back at school! I remember both lunchboxes sitting there!

“Good morning,” I said.

“Good morning,” Dylan said.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m just making my lunch,” he said. “I didn’t know what else to do, since I got down here so early.”

“Well, I can finish it,” I told him, “if you want to go do Lumosity.” Lumosity is a brain-game website that, supposedly, helps him function better mentally. (It sure doesn’t hurt.)

“Okay,” he said. He put his sandwich in his lunchbox, and went to the computer.

I watched him go. It wasn’t far, but I couldn’t quite keep my jaw from the floor as he left the kitchen. He was early, I thought. EARLY!  I was simple too astounded to do much of anything.

Then I remembered: I volunteered to finish making his lunch. And so that’s what I did.

And Dylan hasn’t been early since.

But he also hasn’t been late.

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