Trying to cheer myself up...

Sharon - posted on 03/08/2011 ( 16 moms have responded )

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http://www.parentdish.com/2011/03/04/tem...

It's one of those mornings. I try not to take them personally.

There's no rhyme or reason to it. Daughter #2 had gone to bed at a sensible 8:15 the night before. She'd slept through the night. I'd set out her school clothes for her at the foot of her bed, within easy reach.

I wake up both daughters as usual (gently and cheerfully! half-Mary Poppins, half-Caroline Ingalls!) at 6:40 a.m.. Daughter #1 climbs out of bed to ferret out the perfect pair of jeggings from a tangle of clothes in her closet.

Daughter #2 ignores me. This is not a good omen. I pop my head through her doorway. I ask her pointedly to please get dressed, use the bathroom, brush her teeth and come down for breakfast. Odd whimpering and growling commence from under her pillow. I head downstairs to make coffee, pack lunches and release the hounds, hoping Daughter #2 will sort herself out.

I am not sure what it is exactly that flips the switch. But at some terribly unfortunate point between 6:40 and 6:43 a.m., my post-modern Shirley Temple morphs into the full-blown raging spawn of Satan. She refuses to get dressed. She refuses to get out of bed. She refuses to acknowledge the existence of hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, or toilet. From her room comes monstrous groans and terrifying howls: SHE WOULD NOT, SHE COULD NOT, SHE WOULD NEVER. If I do not wait on her hand and foot, as she demands, getting ready for school is not happening.

These are the times that try single mothers' souls. These are the times when it would be nice to have their father here -- a partner in exhaustion, willing to share responsibility for the creation of the rampaging beast upstairs.

I gulp my coffee like a beer. I sigh. Single Mama don't play this game.

I return to The Den of Fury. I tell Demon Spawn that she has exactly 40 minutes to get her shiz together and show some serious respect for her sister and me. I tell her we are not going to make her sister late for school, under any circumstance. I tell her if she does not get dressed, I will be taking her to school in her PJs -- end of story.

Forty ear-splitting, wall-pounding, bed-thrashing minutes pass. I nearly grind my molars into splinters, trying to maintain my Caroline Cool. The dogs cower under the dining room table. The cats take cover behind the couch.

Reasoning does not work. Scolding does not work.

There is no negotiating with a first-grade terrorist. One must be prepared to make a spectacle.

7:40: Time to leave. Daughter #1 gathers up her things and waits by the front door, mute. The siblings of Demon Spawn must also be prepared to sacrifice dignity if they are to get to school on time.

7:45: Now I am forced to take action. I gather up my PJ-wearing, shrieking 7-year-old. She has transformed into an invertebrate, which now makes it impossible to put her coat on over her PJs. Fine. Coat, clothing, shoes: I stuff them all into a plastic bag. I wedge Demon Spawn under my left arm, and carry her bag of belongings in my other arm. We three head down the hill to the car, in the chill winter air. Two neighbors glance our way, alarmed. I smile as if this is perfectly normal morning behavior for our family. Daughter #1 is grim, but quietly impressed. Daughter #2 thrashes and shrieks from where she is clamped in my armpit. "I'M COLD I'M COLD YOU'RE MEAN I'M COOOOOLD!"

In the car, the Patron Saint of Seatbelts takes pity on us and heeds my prayers. Miraculously, we are all belted in and on our way.

"I WANT TO HAVE MY PLAYDATES!" yells Daughter #2, then, knowing full well I am just about to tell her the week's playdates have been revoked.

"NOT HAPPENING," I say. "NO PLAYDATES THIS WEEK. UH-UH. NO WAY, HO-ZAY."

Daughter #2 spazzes, ad nauseum. In the rearview mirror, Daughter #1 smirks with something resembling vindication.

At school, before hopping out of the car, Daughter #1 whispers into my ear with great awe: "Can I tell my class about this morning?"

"Sure," I say. "This was the equivalent of walking three miles to school in the snow. Go for it."

When Daughter #2 and I pull up in front of the Lower School, she is no longer spazzing but sniffling. She meekly pulls on pants and a coat. We hold hands and head to her classroom.

I ask her first-grade teacher if we can have a word with her in the hallway. I am that mean. Daughter #2 stares at me, horrified. She adores her teacher.

"Miss C.," I say. "H has made some unfortunate choices this morning. If she continues making unfortunate choices, please let me know, because there will have to be further consequences."

I may love her first-grade teacher even more than she does. Miss C. gets it.

"Oh, dear," says Miss C. "I'm sorry to hear that. But I'm sure H is going to make good choices today. Right, H?"

H nods. She looks like she's been through a war. Her hair is pure tumbleweed. She is wearing a bedraggled PJ top with her leggings. She has had no breakfast. My heart aches for her. She doesn't want to be in that headspace any more than I want her to be.

It's hard, being 7. But I don't know what to do other than be her wall, sometimes. If I'm not saying, 'Uh-uh, no way,' who will?

I hug her goodbye. I tell her I know it's been a rough morning, and I love her very much. I tell her we can start over later. I tell her I am hard on her, sometimes, because I know she can do better.

She hugs me back tightly, a smile lighting up her elfin face again. We shake on the promise of a better afternoon, a better week.

We're all still learning.

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I don't recall a morning quite like that for any of my 3. I'm sure my oldest gave a couple of mornings that sort of resembled the above tale. And yet I TOTALLY get this woman and I have SOOOOO much respect for her.

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[deleted account]

I've done that, Bonnie.... it just makes it worse cuz they KNOW they can get you if they push hard enough.

16 Comments

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Krista - posted on 03/09/2011

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I love this story, and think she did exactly right. I would have done the same thing. She's lucky that her daughter's teacher is so awesome and empathetic, though.

Mary - posted on 03/09/2011

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Erin, I have a feeling that both you and I will have a day when our girls go to school in pj's, with unbrushed hair! I hope we are still around on here to share our experiences and commiserate!

Ez - posted on 03/08/2011

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This made me smile lol. Natural consequences are a mother's friend :D I especially liked the ending too, where she reassured her daughter that she loved her etc.

One of my work mates has this issue with her 1st grade son. He hates going to school. She has also recently become a single mother. So she did the same thing, and took him to school in his PJs. I gave her a high five when she told me lol.

My 2yo is stubborn as hell. If we get into a battle of wills (which I try to avoid at all costs by practising positive reinforcement/behaviour strategies etc) I don't always win. I have to pick my battles (does it really matter if she brushes her hair after her bath?) and constantly remind myself that if I have to follow through with any warnings.

I am single, so I can also relate to how hard it is to bear the wrath of a demon child on your own lol. There is no buffer!!!

[deleted account]

Love this! I've only got one kid and he's not in school yet but this made my heart wrench for this woman! Love the ending the most. I got all choked up lol

[deleted account]

I got up and got dressed for school one morning even though i had the flu and could barely move. I then continued to argue with my mum because i was adamant i was going to school. She won.

Jodi - posted on 03/08/2011

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I can kind of relate......I DID take my son to daycare/preschool once in his PJ's kicking and screaming because he refused to get dressed. He wasn't happy, and he never did it again :D In fact, school mornings aren't too bad around here, the kids are really good with the routine these days and it is pretty uneventful. I don't have an issue with my 1st grade daughter, she got upset last week because I WOULDN'T let her go to school with a 39C fever.....

She loves school so much that if she IS dragging her feet, all I have to do is tell her I'm going without her, and she jumps. Funny thing about that is.......she is the only reason I am going to that school in the first place, so why WOULD I go without her? But she hasn't figured that out yet.

Anyway, I LOVED that story.

Becky - posted on 03/08/2011

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That's awesome! Natural consequences in action! I hope I can stick to my guns like that when my kids get older. I'm not always so good at it now!

Bonnie - posted on 03/08/2011

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I probably would have given up eventually and my kids may not have made it to school lol.

[deleted account]

That's awesome! I had quite the morning yesterday (though not nearly the same), so I can FULL ON relate.

[deleted account]

I love this woman. Nonw of my children are in school yet but so help them if they ever act like that child because i will probably do something similar.

Rosie - posted on 03/08/2011

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ah, demon spawn is my middle boys nickname-even in the womb i could tell he was pure evil, lmao!! this situation happens with chores, not school in my house. wish i could do something about it, and have someone other than me make him have consequences. he listens to his teacher well, i should make Mr. H bring the wrath, lol.

Amanda - posted on 03/08/2011

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She gets HUGE respect from me for making that child go to school the way she was. I LOVEEEEEEEEEEEE old school parenting.

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