I don’t carry Tornado E’s backpack and lunch box. I don’t. I have spent the last six years carrying a child in one way or another that I refuse to be a pack mule for those children. I do not want to be one of those moms carrying several backpacks, bent under the strain of books, art projects, and homework as my children frolic along not listening to the instructions being shouted at them.
I am fine with leaving the backpack outside the school. I have made my peace with the idea that we may never see that backpack again and that Tornado E will have to carry his lunch in a plastic grocery bag.
Lately Tornado E has been pulling out passive resistance when it is time to leave the school. He just throws himself down by his stuff, claiming he’s too tired to move. It’s annoying. I’ve even thrown him over my shoulder and stomped back to the car where the younger two boys were already buckled in. While the other moms laughed, I knew I was out of ideas. So I asked at parenting class.
The teacher told me to give the 5 minute warning (check) and then take the younger boys by hand, tell Tornado E we’ll meet him at the car, and wait at the car. She told me to be ready for a long wait but promised he would follow even if it took an hour. I can wait. I have stubbornness issues. I can wait. And lo and behold, the damn trick worked.
So last week, I told Tornado E it was time to go, go get his backpack and lunch box, and we’ll meet him at the car. Two minutes later as I buckled in Tornado S, Tornado E dragged himself into the car, but he was without his stuff.
Me: Tornado E. Go get your backpack and lunch box.
Tornado E: I’m toooooo tiiiiiiirrrrrrrred.
Me: Fine. We’ll leave it there and hope that it’s there in the morning.
I began to buckle in Tornado E.
Tornado E: But. Mooooommmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy. I neeeeeeeeed it!
Me: Then go get it.
Tornado E: I’m tooooooo tiiiiiiiirrrrrred!
Then around the corner came running Sweet Girl, carrying Tornado E’s things.
Sweet Girl: TORNADO E! Your stuff! You can’t forget it!
Me: Thank you, Sweet Girl. That was very nice of you. I’m sure Tornado E appreciates this. (I took the stuff.) Tornado E, what do you say?
Tornado E: THANK YOU, SWEET GIRL!
Sweet Girl: You’re welcome!
Sweet Girl’s mother came around the corner. We exchanged sympathetic looks of understanding.
Tornado E: WAIT! SWEET GIRL! HERE!
I turn. Tornado E was thrusting out a dollar bill out the car door. His dollar bill that he was planning on using to buy something at the Dollar Store.
I walked over, took the bill, and handed it to Sweet Girl.
Sweet Girl: Gosh! Tornado E! Thank you!
Sweet Girl’s Mother: I don’t know. That’s Tornado E’s dollar. We should give it back.
Me: No. If Tornado E wants to give it to Sweet Girl, that’s fine. She’s the one who brought his things. He wants to thank her. If he wants to give away his money, fine.
Sweet Girl danced around waving her dollar.
Sweet Girl’s Mother: Are you sure?
Tornado E: Do you like the five dollar bill?!
Me: Yes. This is perfect.
Sweet Girl’s Mother: It’s a dollar, Tornado E.
Tornado E: Oh. Sweet Girl! Do you like the dollar?!
Me: Look at it this way. Sweet Girl has supplied a need. She’s started her own business.
Sweet Girl’s Mother: Thanks a lot, Fae. Now I have to get her tax forms.
Me: Happy to help.