Tuesday, January 31, 2012

That darn school bell!

When kindergarten first started...


...I had no trouble getting Chickie to school early, every day.

What happened?! Lately it seems that more often than not, we're right outside the building, or in the hallway leading to her classroom, when that darn school bell rings!

This morning I thought we were doing great, and somehow things fell apart, and I was getting more and more stressed. I yelled at the kids to get in their car seats. I rushed as I walked them to the building. Chickie wanted to "play the crack game" in which she walks with one foot on either side of a sidewalk crack. Sometimes this slows her down. Today, honestly, it didn't seem to be slowing her down, but Mama did not have patience for a silly game!

I told Chickie to stop playing the game. She wouldn't. I grabbed the back of her backpack and attempted to pull her toward the school door on the shortest trajectory possible. She resisted, pulling the other way.

So I let go of the backpack, knowing she'd fall. She did.

It was not my proudest moment. I kind of felt like crawling into a turtle shell somewhere. Another parent was just exiting the building and he saw the whole thing. I avoided looking at him and explained to Chickie with a shaky, hormonal voice how much I just want her to be at school on time.

"I don't care if I'm on time," Chickie said.

"Well, I do," I said. "Don't you care about ME? Don't you want to care about it because I do?"

What a morning. I tried to force my daughter to hurry, and then I pulled her, and then I let her fall, and then I gave her a guilt trip. I felt about this big.

And then I spent the walk to her classroom apologizing to her. We were 10 feet from the door when that darn school bell rang. I took the time to give her a hug anyway, and sent her into her class.

As I drove home, I thought about what I should do. One option is to give Chickie a consequence if we're late because she's dawdling. (That was part of our issue this morning.) I may need to do that; she needs to learn to get ready more efficiently, and to care whether she's late or not.

But realistically, I know that there's one person in the house who has the most power over when we leave the house. And it's not Chickie. Or Zoodle. It's me.

I'm the one that sets my alarm at night. I'm the one that decides when to actually get out of bed and wake up Chickie. I'm the one that decides what all really needs to be done before we leave the house. And I'm the one that sets the tone, whether it's one of positivity and relaxation, or one of stress and anger.

So I've decided that we must leave 25 minutes before school starts (if we're driving) and 40 minutes before school starts (if we're walking.) That will get us to school 10-15 minutes early. I just have to build everything around that time. And I know on the mornings when something happens to mess up our plans at the last minute, we'll still have plenty of "cushion" so that we're on time. That means setting the alarm earlier, and choosing an attitude that somehow combines efficiency with patience.

I have a lot of influence over how my daughter's day starts. I want to use my influence for good, every morning!


Toni said...

I'm sorry you had a rough morning. It's not always a bed of roses around here in the on time department.

I wake Kid up and he has a few minutes to hang out on the recliner, watching Curious George and waking up before I make him get dressed and ready.

I set two alarms on my phone. The first alarm rings and Kid knows it's the "warning" bell. Time to do all the last minute things and be ready to go out the door when the second bell rings. Or, if we're doing REALLY WELL, which isn't often, we're already out the door when the second bell rings.

It's not a perfect system but it's working fairly well.

Good luck getting to school on time.

P.S. I HATE the crack game!!

Tia said...

We never seem to have easy mornings either. I just completely lose my cool. I have spent a morning or two apologizing to her in the car. She is always so forgiving, which makes me feel even worse...This mom stuff is hard...

Mellodee said...

I don't think there is anything so frustrating as a dawdling child when you are in a hurry. Many a mom has lost her cool trying to get a kid to get a move on!!

Building in extra time may help, but it's been my experience that, like a gas expands to fill the available space, a child's dawdling expands to fill the available time and then some! LOL! Kids don't really understand why you're supposed to be on time. And frankly, it's a concept I have struggled with my whole life.

"Dawdling is not limited to children", she said guiltily!

But then, I don't have a child who needs to be at school by the bell! :)

Linda said...

I think you're on the right track. We're driving the kids to school this year (2 mi drive, else 6:35 a.m. bus pickup). The kids NEED to be at school by 7:55 but can be there as early as 7:45. My goal is to have them be the first ones to school each morning, right at 7:45, but if something goes awry, we have an extra 10 minutes and we'll still be ok.

7:30 is my "get your coats on NOW!" time, but I rest a bit easier knowing we actually have a few extra minutes before we're actually late for anything.

SurvivorBlessing said...

I am sorry you had such a rough morning!

Unknown said...

Sorry you had a tough morning. We all have them. In the moment of rushing to get out the door for daycare I find it is easy to get myself frustrated at Ian. It is a good reminder to we, as parents, set the pace and can avoid most of this trouble with a little change to our schedule.

The Clines said...

Hi Beth,

Mornings have always been tough for me, so I can relate. I think you have a good plan which should get you to school on time!

For some strange reason I haven't been able to post comments here lately, so I wanted to send (belated) best wishes to you for a smooth and healthy pregnancy. What a wonderful thing you are doing!

On an unrelated note, I thought of your crocheting when I read this and I wanted to pass it along:


Sandra said...

Very wise problem solving! I wish I had been able to analyze and resolve the morning rush in OUR home when our children were little as well. But, I guess we were "lucky" that I worked, so couldn't take them to school -- they HAD to be ready for the bus! So it was someone else (the bus and its driver) who was setting a deadline for them to be ready for school. But there was still lots of drama and yelling in the mornings.

I think your calm way of looking at a solution gives you a much better chance of your children going to school calm and HAPPY! What a concept! :)