The worst part of having the kids in school is the fight to get them out the door in the mornings. Even though they wake up early enough, they just never seem to be ready to leave when it’s time to go.
All too often, I end up in classic angry parent mode:
“Where’s your backpack?”
“Did you remember your lunch?”
“Why are you sitting on the couch? We need to go!”
“Please tell me you didn’t really just dump that glass of milk on the carpet.”
It kind of drives me crazy.
Last year, I hit on a wonderful realization: it’s not my problem. They’re the ones who get in trouble if they’re late to school, not me. It was one of those liberating moments that feels like a weight has just been lifted from your shoulders. I explained to the kids that it was up to them. If they wanted their teachers to yell at them, that was fine with me. It was like I flipped a switch, and the rest of the school year mornings passed with relative ease.
This year, I fell back into my old habits, pushing and yelling and shoving, doing whatever I could to get them out the door… until this morning.
This morning, my oldest son needed to get in early to get a script. I woke him and his brother up early so they’d have plenty of time. Twenty minutes later, I found them still in their pajamas. I took a deep breath, then remembered last year’s solution.
“Gonna miss out on the script?” I asked my oldest.
“What?” he said, looking up from his book. “No. Why?”
“Cause you have about five minutes left to get showered, dressed, and ready for breakfast. Oh, and feed the dogs. Can’t forget that.” Today was a driving day, not a bicycling day, so we didn’t have any option of switching to the car to get to school faster.
“What?” he repeated.
“And you might want to get your brother ready, too.” I said reasonably. “I can’t take you in and leave him here.”
He leaped off the couch. “Go!” he shouted at his brother. “Go!”
They both made it to breakfast, appropriately dressed. Afterward, I leaned back and stretched out my legs.
“Dad,” he said. “We have to go!”
“I’m ready whenever you are,” I said. “I’ve cleared my dishes, and I have the keys right here. Your brother’s not finished eating, though, and you still have to clear your dishes and brush your teeth.”
“Ah!” he shouted, running to clear his place. “This is so frustrating!”
“Yes,” I said. “Yes it is.”
Or, I should say, it was.