Because we’ve all been there and you’ve got this…
Well, THAT was a crazy morning!
In a moment of frustration, I just read my son the riot act regarding the importance of facing one’s fears.
I was not particularly calm.
I was not particularly cool.
I was not particularly collected.
But, you know what? I got the job done, and done, as they say, is better than perfect.
Allow me to explain:
I am presently sporting crutches. I broke my foot at the beginning of December which, two weeks after the fact, required surgery. Because my husband was off to work early this morning, my 7-year-old and I were on Get-Ready-For-School Detail alone. My son woke up at 6:30 am. That left us with 55 minutes to get him ready. No problem, right?!
You’d certainly think so.
I do not profess to be a perfect parent. I am well aware of my son’s flaws; even more so, my own.
I gave him ten minutes to read in bed. He wasn’t pleased with me when his request for “just a bit more time” was met with a resounding “no.” It then took him twenty minutes to dress himself and use the washroom. Naturally, it frustrates him when I check-in, but I have to, if ever the job is to be done. Next up: teeth brushing, a task of epic proportion. We still help him with this because his teeth are like chalk and having spent a small fortune on dental work to date, despite our ORAL-retentive ways, we do not trust him to do a good enough job on his own. (Maybe when he’s 8?) With all the fidgeting, and the singing, and the dramatic disapproval of my technique, (too fast and too far back,) a two minute job easily turned into five. (Which was actually pretty fast for us!)
Prior to heading downstairs I made a HUGE deal of ensuring that my son had everything he needed before we went downstairs because we would not be coming back upstairs. My son is terrified of being on any floor of our house alone. (Which is nuts because I’ve seen what that kid does on a ski hill!) He claims our house is laden with monsters. I remember what that’s like. To this day, I fight the urge to run up basement stairs. Especially after I’ve turned off the light. My son and I are blessed with over-active imaginations. For better or worse.
Because I am on crutches I try to organize my day so that I don’t have to go up or down the stairs anymore than I absolutely have to. Our staircase is wide, and the stairs themselves are clad in hard wood and they are plentiful. I fall UP them at least once a day, usually when I’m tired and my balance is questionable. Falling UP the stairs by choice is still WAY better than falling DOWN the stairs backwards. That being said, I do not enjoy the experience. Being physically vulnerable is really not my thing.
Once we finally made it downstairs, we had twenty-five minutes to spare. We still needed to get his school bag packed, take a host of supplements/vitamins, make breakfast, eat breakfast, dress ourselves in outdoor clothing, load ourselves (and the dog) into the car, and drive to the bus stop at the end of our driveway.
I will admit, I was a little panicked. But for the most part, I kept my cool. Still, the kid knew we were late. He knew I was panicked. He just always knows.
So, I started to make breakfast:
Me: L, you need to put your book and your flashlight in your backpack right now. Don’t set them down somewhere meaning to do it later.
L: I am, Mom. Don’t worry!
Me: L, now you need to put your lunch and your water bottle in your backpack.
L: I’m on it, Mom.
Me: Great job! Okay, now I need you to take your allergy meds and your vitamins.
L: (He starts to take his allergy meds and vitamins.)
Me: L, can you bring me two plates, one bowl and the butter please?
L: (Stops what he’s doing, to honour my request.)
Me: Thanks, Buddy. Oh crap! We’re already running late and we forgot to do your hair!
L: Mom, don’t say crap. You should say, “Son of a Cookie” instead. And besides, it’s no big deal, Mom. I’ll brush it with my fingers.
(I said something similar to “Son of a Cookie” in response to broken-bone related pain a couple of days ago, prompting the development of yet another child-appropriate expletive. Feel free to use it. You have our blessing.)
Me: No, you should at least brush your hair with an actual brush. Just run upstairs and grab your brush, and we’ll do it super quick down here.
L: But Mom, I don’t want to go upstairs alone!
Me: Come on, Buddy. There’s nothing to be afraid of, you can totally do this!
L: (Starts to panic.)
Me: Forget it. I’ll go get it while you’re eating. Can you hand me the plates, please?
(By this point, I am nearly done cooking his eggs.)
L: It’s not a big deal, Mom. You shouldn’t worry about stuff like this. You don’t have to get my brush. I’ll just use my fingers and some water.
(Of course I know this, but you must understand, the kid’s hair drives me crazy at the best of times! The worst part is that it was initially MY idea for him to grow it out. I thought it would be cute. In reality, it’s dishevelled, and even he loathes maintaining it. BUT, he likes it long because people no longer fawn all over him, telling him how cute he is all the time. He’s hiding under that mop-top, and he knows it. This actually makes me a little crazy, so at the very least, that hair of his needs to be brushed. Much like my own hair, it adheres to convention for all of five minutes before it reverts back to its wild ways, so he’s right really; why do we even bother?! Living a principled life can, on occasion, be a right royal pain in the arse. Anyway… back to our story:)
Me: Stop lecturing me and start eating. Did you take your allergy meds?
(Because I distracted him the first time I asked.)
Me: Take your allergy meds before you eat, please.
(A moment or two passes, while we frantically eat.)
Me: I am so frustrated. You know, it’s me who has a rational reason to fear going up the stairs right now, yet I’m the one who’s prepared to do it! Your fear of being alone on a separate floor is entirely irrational! The only way to conquer irrational fears it to bravely face them. Which means if you’re afraid of going upstairs you HAVE to go upstairs, and the more you face your fears the easier it gets, so you may as well start sooner than later!!!
(This is the part where I felt like an ass and proceeded to berate myself mentally in the following ways:
1. Sweet Love, Tracey, go easy on the child! He’s just a kid.
2. You have a ridiculous number of irrational fears yourself. A little compassion maybe?
3. Who rants at a small child???
4. Etc, etc, etc…. )
At which point, the magic happened:
L: You know what, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna go get my brush.
So he hops off his seat, with a determined smile on his face, throws back his shoulders and proceeds to sprint upstairs, and then back downstairs, (as I yell, BE CAREFUL ON THE STAIRS!) jumping over the last two steps, to land with a thump (on two feet,) with his brush in his hand.
Naturally, as I usher him into the bathroom, I start hooting and hollering in celebration: YEAH! Right on! That was so freakin’ awesome! I’m so proud of you! And he tells me that he’s proud of himself and comments that his day is now off to a much better start. (That’s what facing your fears is good for, folks.)
Yet the irony of the situation just about killed me; an irrational fear of monsters leads to sprinting up and down the stairs? THAT is definitely dangerous. THAT is something to be feared. I was walking when I fell down a SINGLE stair, spraining my ankle and breaking a bone in my foot. As it turns out, irrational fear is dangerous. Just not in the way you might think.
With quickly, though somewhat decently, brushed hair, I sent the boy off to don his outdoor gear. Before we left the house I checked the time. It was precisely 7:22 am.
A sign from the Universe, perhaps? A reminder that despite my many fears and anxieties with regard to parenting that I am in fact doing what I was born to do? That I am enough? And that some how the HUGE love I have for my child will more than compensate for my lack of parenting finesse? That everything is going to be okay?
Yes. I think so.
In fact, it will be great. Even wonderful.
Parenting is messy business, but it’s beautiful business, and it’s the only business for me.