Saturday, April 27, 2013

Oh mornings, how you thwart me!

The time between when I finally decide to stop hitting the snooze button, turn off the Canadian newscaster and get out of bed, to the time I must exit the house in order to drop off the boys at their respective sitters and get to work before my students stage a walk-out is 50 minutes. If it was just me, that would not be a problem. If it was just me and Paul, I'd still be okay. But it's not. While my youngest son does not share any of my genetic material, he most decidedly shares my love for procrastination. He is my payback for all those times I asked for "One more drink" before bed, for the "I'll be right there I'm just looking for something" and the "That? Oh, I'll put it away later." If there is a way to avoid an uncomfortable task, John has figured it out. Our mornings involve moments when he can't possible wear the sneakers that are right by the door and instead must rifle through the basket to find a different pair. With a 50 minute window, 15 of which is generally reserved for getting the boys dressed and out the door, it just doesn't fly. And then the yelling starts. Not an especially fun way to start the morning I will admit. But as time is ticking away, I begin to imagine the traffic pile up that occurs in front of my school each morning as the parents of children who have equal if not greater procrastination issues perform the "my kid couldn't POSSIBLY take the bus" drop-off ritual (but that is another post entirely). And I start to yell. An odd moment of clarity came last week when John reported to his grandparents that sometimes I announce that he is going to be left behind. (Which I would never do, so don't go calling the authorities - I am just the queen of idle threats.) He used my first name when telling the story, which made it pretty cute. AND THERE IS THE PROBLEM RIGHT THERE. John is really freaking cute. And he uses that cuteness to get away with obnoxious behavior, like complete and total meltdowns when he cannot successfully employ his procrastination strategy. I know, I know. He is three. And three year olds want control, blah blah blah. But when I give him choices and try to empower him, he always picks the non-choice.
"Do you want apple or grapes for dinner?"
"We don't have any plums. It's the middle of winter. Apple or grape?"
"Honey, we don't have any plums." Cue meltdown.
I am at a bit of a loss as to how best to ride this current storm. Meltdowns at 6 am are no fun. Especially when they follow things like this: "Boys, stop jumping naked on the bed and get dressed already!" This past week I decided to institute a checklist that each child must follow in order to get us out the door by the required time. Paul and I brainstormed a list for him, wrote it down, tacked it in his room, and he dutifully follows it (although he tries to skip the steps that involve helping his brother). Paul is a Jedi. Give him a task and he will execute it. For John, I used magazine clippings and crudely drawn stick figures for his list, and he too was successful. Up until we came downstairs and he had to put on his coat. There was two minutes left before the target exit time.
"You can wear your orange coat or your blue coat."
"I want my raincoat."
"You left it in daddy's car and he's already gone. Besides, it's going to be sunny today."
Deep breath. "Let's just wear the blue one. C'mon."
"Can I have a boonana?"
"There aren't any. I need to get more from the store." Cue meltdown.
Overall, we did do much better this week that we had in previous weeks. Mommy didn't yell, and the boys made general progress on the road to independence. If I can just figure out the magic formula to keep the meltdowns at bay...

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