My Little Jokester

February 21, 2011

Those of you who see me often have no doubt gotten an earful as to the daily attempted mutiny that is our weekday morning routine.  And two of my kids LIKE school.  I’ll be in deep trouble if that changes for the worse.  They are temperamental – don’t know WHERE they got that – and one or two hiccups in the process and everything falls apart.

This picture is a couple of years old, but here’s an idea of what I’m up against…

Getting these three kids out the door each weekday morning for school requires an hour and a half of non-stop focus, self-control, gentle chiding and excellent judgment.  Lose my cool?  I’ll be lucky if I ONLY get tears.

Son, at left, has no interest is halting play to go to school.  My only strategy is not to let him play until he is almost ready.

Daughter #2, right, changes clothes at least twice each morning and has a rigorous routine of assessments for fit, comfort and top/bottom compliment.  If she hits severe dissatisfaction, it’s ALL OVER.

Fortunately, I’ve come a long way in recent months.  It turns out that freaking out and yelling is the worst thing to do, truly the nail in the coffin.  Or at least it must be used in the smallest of doses.  I’ve been a slow learner on that one.

The other day the hiccup was Daughter #1 (middle in photo).  She slept a half hour late, which I let her do because if I wake her too forcefully she struggles to shake off her mood.  And I can do that because she loves school so much that as soon as she is fully awake she stays on task.  The other two were escorted to school by my sweet neighbor Dave, who has saved my ass on numerous occasions.

Daughter #1 made slow but steady progress.  She was at the door, putting on the final touch – mittens.  I stood there trying so hard not to rush her snail’s pace, not to mess up the best possible scenario.  Trust me, years of experience have shown me that one false move on my part in this delicate moment will put us on the express train to hell.

She looks up at me with great concern and says, “Mom, we have to return the music books.”

I give her a blank look, “What music books?”  Deep breath.  I’d never heard my kids use this phrase before.

She smiled and said, “Just tricking you.  We don’t have music books.”

That’s right.  My almost 6-year-old had been awake for all of 20 minutes, and had the presence of mind and mischief to %&#( with me!  I laughed.  How could I not?  Days later it still gives me a chuckle, despite the certainty of more sophisticated practical jokes to come.

We walked the short distance to school on that cold, sunny day.  She pointed out everything she noticed: a leaf that had escaped the endless frozen snow, the way the morning sun skidded across the snow and made it sparkle.  It was very icy out from dips below freezing after the previous day’s warmth, but she didn’t want to hold my hand.  She lead the way, she told ME when to watch out for the ice.

And all that was very worth being 5 minutes late.

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