I believe that routine is a good and mostly necessary habit to develop in life. I know sometimes it's the routine that has helped me keep my sanity. I struggle with several areas of self-discipline (which I totally hate about myself) and have found that only by maintaining a strict routine can I become more disciplined in some of these areas.
There can be a time that routine can be way over-kill. For instance, I believe in semi-regular bed times for my kids, somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 on non-church nights. For everybody's sanity. But if I was a total stickler for routine, I would not be able to cope on the nights when church ran later and the kids did not get to bed until 10:00 or 11:00. That is just one example of why I believe that routine is mostly necessary. Because life itself throws too many curve balls that are not part of our plans, strict routine followers will often end up more miserable and unable to cope with change of any kind.
That is why Hannah's "ducks-in-a-row" quirk is much more serious to me. I can laugh about it at times, but really her personality I believe borders on OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Dave and I noticed this about her from as far back as we can remember. It started with little things like the exact placement of her dish, spoon and cup. If anything was too close to her dish, this would at times cause extreme upset. When she was really young she would want to clean the tub instead of play in it while bathing. She would constantly want to straighten out things that were "crooked". These are just a few examples.
Now I realize that any one of these things is okay and normal. We all have something we absolutely have to have a certain way. But for her there were and are several of these things. Even if she got over one issue, it presented itself in another way. She is not so concerned about the position of her plate anymore, but she is still obsessed with germs and cleanliness, to the point where I have to stop her from washing her hands because her hands actually bleed from over-washing. I know that this is one of the strongest indicators of true OCD.
I remember someone commenting to me when she was really little to just leave her alone, after all, why wouldn't you want your daughter to have "clean" habits? And not be lazy? True, of course, but to a point. I do want my daughter to keep a neat house. But living with her day after day and seeing the extremes of her personality, Dave and I believe that as much as possible, we have to upset her routine. Whenever she was irritated with her bowl and spoon being out of position, we would start them in a different position the next day. Or we would set something (like a used napkin, which she hated) close to her plate. Whenever she had a compulsion to clean something excessively, we would mess it up. We realized that we had to consistently upset her little apple cart and kept doing it until she adjusted to whatever it was that upset her. If that doesn't sit well with some people, that's okay. We believe, however, that in preparing her for life, she will be miserable, AND she'll make those closest to her miserable if she can't cope with her little world being tipped upside down EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE.
I do believe she is improving. And that is the reason that I believe Dave and I have handled this situation correctly. Her worst problem now is the excessive hand washing which we're still working on, but almost every other thing she can be talked-through and reasoned with. She is learning that she can be uncomfortable with imperfection. And with God's help she will become more balanced in general in this area.
The nice thing about her personality is that she is wonderful help to me. And I do encourage that.
As with everything in life, it's all about balance.