This morning started how mine usually do…kids asleep, coffee made (with a scoop of ice cream in place of creamer, yum!), chair outside waiting along with the assortment of birds (crows) and hummingbirds flying about. I sat down with some Crosby, Stills, & Nash playing on my spotify and opened facebook from my iphone. There I saw, back to back, two posts from two friends who don’t know each other. One was detailing the frustrations of getting an unmotivated kid off to school. The next was from an unschooling mom whose kids recently asked to go to school, who was loathe to go wake her kids up because they looked so warm and peaceful sleeping.
The responses to both were like night and day. I really love that about my facebook feed. I have walked in many divergent shoes over the last 20 years. Mormon. Not Mormon. School mom. Unschool mom. Traditional parent. Attachment parent. Religious. Athiest. I have a mixed jumbling of friends in each group, and they fill my facebook with such a grand array of equal yet opposite views. Whether I agree or disagree it fills my life up with variety and spice and I appreciate the chance to peek into such differing world views. My morning facebook is like cereal…just one flavor would be boring, but with everyone adding so much flavor it’s like a big bowl of Fruity Pebbles. You are the Froot in my Loops. You put the Fruity in my Cheerios, if you want to be “healthier” about it.
So, the first post about how to get an unmotivated kid to school on time brought a lot of suggestions. Start giving rewards so you can take them away. Send him out of the house in whatever state he’s in when it’s time to go…half dressed, without eating, without a lunch…whatever it may be. Take away things he loves. I could add a few to the list, since getting Naturalist off to school back when she went to school was never easy. I had to be on her ass every 5 minutes keeping her on track. I’d alternate between being a cheerleader and being a drill sargeant. Do this. Now do that. We made her lunch the night before to streamline the effort. She’d start crying with about 15 minutes till bus time, right when I’d be brushing her hair while she ate breakfast because we’d gotten behind in the getting dressed/packing the bookbag stage. Teeth brushing usually got ditched…aint nobody got time for that! Not when the bus just passed by in the neighborhood behind us! I’d give her some cookies to try and stop her tears, which never worked, so I resorted to literally shoving them in her mouth. I’d then push her out the front door while saying “You can’t cry with cookies in your mouth!” and give her a peppy wave. Then I’d slump to the ground and start recharging myself for the next morning when we’d have to do it all over again. It took the full 24 hours to recover, mostly because I was mormon at the time and couldn’t go for a glass of wine by 8 in the morning.
Eventually I let her sleep in a bit later and drove her to school. I thought it would be best because she could spend more time at home and be dropped right off in front of her classroom. What actually happened was a lot more drama. Sitting in the car gave her more courage to actually wail instead of just sniffle cry. One desperate morning I used my right arm to open her door while leveraging my right leg against her, gently but firmly shoving her out of the car while slowly driving away. “Have a good day!” I called out while trying to close the door again without running into other momcars. I looked in the rearview mirror at my crying 8 year old and also had a good cry driving back home.
I didn’t become a mom for this, dammit!
One thing led to another, yada yada yada, Naturalist didn’t finish out the school year. When other moms asked me why, I talked a lot about bullshit NCLB, bullshit administration, bullshit teachers (not all! But certainly her teacher that year), and bullshit curriculum. What I didn’t say, because it made me sound completely ridiculous, was that the morning routine was killing me slowly. People can get judgey about that. Like, how will your kids learn how to be decent human beings if you don’t teach them–come hell or high water–how to get to school on time. But I’m pretty sure decent Human beings don’t want to bang their head repeatedly against the wall while simultaneously throttling their offspring by 7:30 in the morning.
Fast forward to today, and the other facebook post about not wanting to wake up her warm, happy, sleeping kids for school. The responses were very different. Let them be late! Can they miss the bus and get a ride? Do they really have to go? Along with a bunch of other moms who, like me, are school mom drop outs for this very reason and who openly admit it. Spending slow mornings with happy kids, all while still in pajamas, is such a gift. She ended up bringing warm tea into her daughter, who got up with her alarm and was ready.
Morning schedules are what separates the homeschoolers from the regular schoolers. They are the straw the breaks the camels back, like in my case, or the motivator to really buckle down and regulate, like in my schooly friend’s case. Different people know what’s right for them.
For me, unrushed mornings full of cuddles and fun pancake breakfasts without tears and punishments is what’s right.
This. This right here is what I became a mom for.