The main reason I began going to parenting class was for the free childcare. In this third session of classes, there is no childcare. I go because the teacher and the other parents are hilarious. And every class I really do learn something like sarcasm doesn’t work with kids or how sponge-like kids are or that no matter how old and mature I get my mom will see me as beneath her and I don’t want to raise children that feel that way.
A couple of weeks back, a mom complained about how her son doesn’t get ready for school in the morning. Every morning was the same. Lots of yelling and threats as the child moped, whined, yelled, fought as he was forced to get ready for school. It was an outright rebellion. When it was time to go to school, everyone was miserable.
And I thought, “I have the chart!” Tornado E loves doing the morning routines chart. I rock.
The teacher told the mom to stop. She said don’t even fight it. Just give a warning of time and let the child make the decision. When it’s time to go and the child isn’t ready, take the child to school any ways. It was so simple and crazy that it might just work.
The next morning, I had full open rebellion. No one cared about the chart. Everyone wanted to play instead. It was frustrating.
I took the teacher’s advice. I was skeptical. Tornado E loved to dress differently. He had already gone to school several times in his pajamas for fun. But I did the method, trusting it would work. I gave warnings of the time and left it at that. The boys continued to play with their toys. I got Tornado A dressed. I got dressed and ready for the day. I gave a five-minute cushion between saying we needed to leave and actually leaving. When I told the boys it was time to go, Tornado E scampered into his clothes. Tornado S begged me for help. Everyone was ready on time.
It was amazing and annoying. Why couldn’t they just get that life would be so much easier if they got dressed and then played? But I remember Wally explaining to me about how the shoe story and how half the people put away their shoes right away and half don’t. The ones who do think it’ll save time later when they look for their shoes. The ones who don’t think it’ll save time at that moment because they aren’t wasting it putting away their shoes. Basically, we look at the world differently.
Every day, I did the same trick. And it worked. Until today.
Instead of jumping up and getting dressed at the 10-minutes-to-go call, the boys jumped into Tornado S’s bed and hid under the covers. Crap. The 5-minute call found them the same way. Crap. I packed up clothes and shoes and threw them into the car. I told them it was time to go, and they stayed giggling under the covers. Crap. Crap. Crap. I took a deep breath and put Tornado A in the car, strapping him into his seat. I walked into the boys’ room, pulled off the covers, grabbed their hands, and marched them to the car.
Tornado S: I’m going to school naked!!!!
Tornado S was naked except for a sock. Tornado E was in his shirt and socks from the day before and a pull up. Awesome.
I strapped them in and drove to school in silence, wondering if I was too stubborn for my own good, if there was an exit strategy that wouldn’t undermine my authority, if those classes were full of sh*t. By the time I parked at school, I had no answers. I got out of the car, shut the door, and sat on the hood of my SUV. I had made fantastic time, so the other cars were just starting to trickle into the parking lot. I just thought.
Comedy is how my family deals with situations. So I messaged an SOS to my adopted parenting sponsor. I formulated a text to a friend, but before I could type it, one of my favorite moms asked what I was doing. I explained the situation, giving a brief glance to the windshield.
The Mom: Ah, well, tell Tornado E that KJ wants to play with him. And she was excited to see his car was already here.
Then she laughed. And I laughed. I opened the door to the car.
Tornado E: Mommy! We need to go home so I can get dressed!
Me: It’s too late, buddy. We leave now, we’ll be late for school.
Tornado E: But Mommy!
I went to the back of the truck and pulled out Tornado A’s stroller. I got Tornado A out and strapped him into his stroller with a few toys. I grabbed the bag of clothes.
Me: Get out, Tornado E.
Tornado E: But MOMMMY! I’m NOT DRESSED!
Me: Well, that’s the choice you made when you decided to play instead of dressing. Get out and stand by the stroller. (Which I had parked on the sidewalk in front of the SUV and by a bench.)
I got Tornado S out of the car and led him to the bench. I figured I better get Tornado S in underwear before my conservative friend showed up. Tornado S was giddy. Note to self: This doesn’t work on Tornado S. Tornado E was crouched beside the stroller. I helped the boys into their underwear. Then I handed them clothes. They dressed quickly. Tornado E ran off as soon as he was dressed.
Perhaps, I handled it well after all. Though, maybe I should have taken them into the bathroom to get dressed, but it was early so not many people were there and they would have seen more people walking to the bathroom than a quick dress on the sidewalk. And I thought nothing of the whole thing, since I have on occasion dressed in public. (Not in front of a crowd. Jesus. And I had on underwear.)
Hopefully they learned their lesson. I did.
Crap. Tornado E, where’s your lunchbox? Crap.