NASA has a launch sequence for rockets. The fuel mixture has to be right. The cloud cover has to be minimal. The winds have to be calm. The conditions are critical.
Every parent knows there is a morning launch sequence for their children. Each child has different launch requirements. For the girl, the primary launch requirement is to stay out of the way. Leave the kitchen while she pivots from the cereal box to the milk in the refrigerator. It is usually safe to say, “Good morning.” If she is in a particularly good mood, you will get a “Good morning” in reply. If the mood is less than optimal, you will get a grunt.
Either response means the launch is on schedule. The fuel mixture is correct. Just stay out of the way, and let the ignition sequence run normally.
The boy’s launch sequence is a little more complex. As he takes his seat on the stool at the breakfast bar, I notice that his feet are still bare.
“Do you have socks?” I ask.
“Yes,” he responds, “I’ll get them on after breakfast.”
This is a statement of faith. He may have clean socks in his laundry bin. His socks may all be under his bed.
Looking at his bare toes, I say, “Go get them on, and I will start the water for your oatmeal.”
He lumbers off to the basement to see if there really are clean socks in his laundry bin as I wonder why he has a dresser in his room. Emerging from the basement, he sits on the stool at the breakfast bar to pull his socks on. It’s a good morning. All of his socks have not been stashed under his bed.
As the boy is finishing his oatmeal, the girl appears again to look at the clock on the stove. It reads 7:30.
“Eek! I’ve got to go.”
The girl pulls on a jacket, grabs her bag, and runs from the house. Hopefully we have parked in the correct configuration. A black scrape on my wife’s bumper serves as a reminder of what happens when a car is parked too close behind the girl’s car. Her launch sequence leaves no room for error.
As the boy climbs the stairs to brush his teeth, he inquires, “Who’s going to cuddle with me on the couch?”
It is essential that either me or my wife sits on the couch with him to watch funny cat videos before the bus comes. Failure to do so will result in a bad launch sequence. The launch may get him to school, but the return trip will be less than optimal.
When the big yellow monster swallows the boy, we can take a deep breath. The launch sequence is complete. We can prepare for our own launch. It may not be NASA, but it is critical.
I have been a priest for 16 years. I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010. If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.