Mornings Part 2

We have a morning routine chart.

First it was a graph with pictures that I made in Word.  As Tornado E did his morning chores, I would put on a sticker to mark off his chore.  He liked the stickers, and the chart was cute and fun.  But with two little boys to get ready as well as a baby, placing stickers on the chart became more and more a forgotten hassle.

Back to the drawing board.

Then I made a larger chart.  This time I had both boys on the chart.  I had stickers for every chore.  Underneath the stickers, I had Velcro.  As the boys each finished a chore, they would place a home-made pirate coin on the chart.  It worked well.  When we moved, I made a nicer chart with a pirate theme.

The problem was that the boys quickly figured out that they could do the chores all at the end of the morning before we left.  I still was nagging and scolding.  We were still barely making it out of the house on time.  Did I mention my boys are early risers, so we had a whole two hours to get ready?

Then I pleaded for help here and on Facebook.  Behold, one of my college friends, a preschool teacher now, suggested to have a morning playlist for the boys.  Each song would represent a chore. She explained how it taught the little kids about time and time management.  I was skeptical.  But since I had tried everything else, I was willing to try this.

That afternoon we sat with Tornado E and Tornado S, playing them songs from my collection.  They set up an eclectic mix.  Metalica and Beach Boys.  “I Will Survive” and “Barking at the Moon.”  Rammstein, Evanesence, Jimmy Eats World, Smash Mouth, Destiny’s Child.  It was a heart-pumping, head-bangng, feet-moving playlist.

The next morning the boys rocked as they ate breakfast.  Two songs were played.  They ran upstairs.  I moved the iPod to my room and cranked up the music.  It took two songs to get dressed.  The raced through their chores, dancing, jumping, moving.  We were done with an hour to go.

Every morning since, the boys have jammed their way through their chores with plenty of time to play a round of “Plants vs Zombies.”

And I am still in shock a week later.  And I like not nagging.  It’s nice.  Even if I had to give up my morning playlist.

Some mornings are like that

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.

Just an Average Day with a Bi-Polar Three-year-old Tornado

Waking up to a tiny voice asking me if he can sleep with me, I looked up to check that it was indeed 6 am and that it was Thursday.  As I tried to keep my hand away from Evan who wanted to pull at the loose skin and mangle it, I made a list of everything needed to be done.  As this was an other day, it meant to empty the dishwasher during the boys’ breakfast, doing the morning exercises, and where did my husband leave the remote.  Since I made French toast yesterday, all I had to do was pop it in the microwave.  I love easy breakfast.  As I tried to return to my dream where Ben Affleck, Harrison Ford, and I saved the world from aliens (It WAS a good story in my mind.  Too bad I’m not a script writer), I heard the crib music from Sean’s room and his babbling.  I stretched and went to retrieve the baby, who yelled “Mama” as soon as he saw me.  Today was going to be a good day.


As it was Thursday, I realized today was the preschool story time at the library.  As I buttered the French toast and liberally sprinkled the powder sugar, I debated whether to stay home or not because Evan was trying to stay up later the last few days (with I need my blinds open {what crazy kid sleeps with their blinds open?}, I need water, it’s cold, can I sleep with you, can you take my pillow and put it in your room), and I wondered if it had to do with the late naps he’s been getting.  Well, I had to discuss this possibility with my advisors, but I waited for a more decent hour, though they are now an hour ahead and it’s cooler in Arizona so they probably wouldn’t have minded an interrupting call in the early morning.


My advisors assured me that late naps weren’t the issue.  My mom insisted that I should wake Evan up at 2 or 2:30, not letting him sleep more than two and half hours.  I watched my already behind blog reading disappear as I remembered that I was suppose to make some calls for my husband today (Hmm, I wonder if I could push those back to Friday).  My dad pointed out that we kids did the same thing off and on for weeks and that this could possibly be a phase.  Thanks, Dad.  So story time it was.


But when it was time to get the boys dressed, I met with some resistance.  As I tried to get Evan to choose a shirt, he ran around naked yelling, “I’m a pink chocolate skeleton!”  Um, well, then pick a shirt, Mr. Pink Chocolate Skeleton.  “I can’t.  I’m going to be a cotton candy skeleton, and those shirts are not cotton candy.”  You’ve got me there.  Since I couldn’t catch Evan, I caught Sean instead, quickly dressing him.


With the pouncing skills of a lion, I grabbed Evan and wrestled to get some underwear on him.  I swear I could enter the rodeo for hog tying.  Threatening to choose the shirt if he didn’t, I wrestled a pair of shorts on Evan.  I wonder if girls are different because nine times out of ten I can’t get Evan to pick a shirt much less put one on.  The only person that can get Evan to dress himself is my Mom, but I think Evan just wants to impress her on how big a boy he is.  So I chose the shirt and threw it on, and I lost Evan when I got the toothbrushes ready.  Let’s just say that fifteen minutes later, Evan’s face was washed, teeth were brushed, and hair was combed, which led us to the battle of making the bed.


When all was said and done and both boys were presentable to the world, I had two little tornadoes cruising and crashing through the house.  When I asked if Evan wanted to go to the library, with visions of trying to control two boys who would be railing against their quiet fate with body heaving from The Exercise as I murmur bribes and threats in their ears, Evan yelled, “NO!”  and ran off.  Fine, I didn’t want to go anyway, so there.


So as any mother with young tornadoes, I threw open the doors so that they could reek destruction on the land and not my home. 


But as I got ready to make lunch, Evan demanded to go to the library.  Excuse me?  Yup, he wanted to go to the library, and he had the tears to prove it.  Are you kidding?  And I did the rookie mistake of trying to reason with a three-year-old, explaining how he didn’t want to go earlier and story time was over and we’ll go to the library next week.  (Good job, Mom; is this your first?)  All of this was met with a building temper tantrum.  Usually I just throw him in his room until he calmed down, but Sean had passed out playing with toys and was now sleeping in his crib.  Ok, fine, what do you want to do at the library?  He *sob* wanted *hick-up* to read *sniffle* boooooooks.  Fine, we can do that.  *Whine*  But we can’t go to the library *sob* right now because Sean is sleeping *sniffle* and it’s lunch time.  *so- “Ok, Mommy, can I have a peanut butter sandwich?”


So this is how it feels to live with Sybil.  Awesome.



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