My kids have me very well trained.
No, it’s NOT the other day around, sadly. My children are adorable, loving, smart – and completely feral. (They do say please and thank you, because they’re smart enough to know that’s how they get what they want – but the manners basically end there.)
Our morning routine is a prime example of how I am no more than a trained circus animal, for all my children are concerned. A monkey in a suit, who can fetch them snacks, put on their shoes, wipes their butts and hold all of their trash for them (“here, mom!”). But mornings, that is when my children’s amazing ability to mind-control me really shines.
Mornings are rough in our house.
Our two year old is an early riser, and usually cheerful right out the gate, but does not otherwise have a particularly cooperative demeanor. Our four year old doesn’t do mornings. This is unfortunate as he’s usually the better listener (I only have to tell him 35 times to put on his socks, as opposed to 72 times with his sister).
The two of them plod downstairs, immediately request their beverage of choice (warm milk for Scout, kefir water or orange juice for Gavin) and then settle on to the couch for a few minutes of “quiet show” (basically anything that’s not Transformers or Minions).
Once their eyes are wider than half-slits (or, once they are doing back-flips off the couch, as is the case with my daughter – have I mentioned that mornings are her thing?) then we move into “getting ready” mode. (Yes, I skipped the breakfast part – we’ve long since given up on breakfast. It’s an inevitable catastrophe, and entirely too time consuming. I don’t have time to fight about cereal options in the mornings. Breakfast is for weekends in our house.)
“Getting ready” is the worst time.
Gavin inevitably asks, “Is it a school day?!” knowing full well it is. I’ve stopped answering the question because the answer is just fodder for an epic tantrum. I’ve just started saying, “I’m not responding to that if the answer is going to cause you to pitch a fit.”
Then we move on to all the reasons why we need to wear the following: socks (they protect your feet and keep them warm), underwear (you don’t want your penis to get stuck in your zipper do you?), non-pajama pants (the mulch on the playground sticks to pajama pants – wear jeans), shoes (c’mon, just do it, for heavens sake), etc . . . until we’ve finally assembled a half-way acceptable level of preparedness for daycare.
I shove them towards the door and go through our “walking out the door” routine: each child gets the following; one fist bump, two high fives, one nose kiss, one smooch, and one giant hug. Sometimes we have to go through the entire list twice, if I didn’t do it right the first time.
Then comes the big show.
By this point, I’m ready to kick my adorable hellions out the front door so I can finally get to work. But first, I must perform.
They shuffle off to the car with dad, take what seems like eternity to get into carseats, get buckled, get situated – then they finally pull out of the garage.
I’m waiting on the porch this whole time – rain or shine, sleet or snow. This is what they look forward to. As the car slowly pulls away, my kids shout through their open windows, “Mom! Do the butt dance!” and then laugh maniacally as I turn around and shake my booty in their direction. (Sometimes Gavin will shout, “Mom! Do the penis dance!” – I do not comply. A) I do not know what the penis dance is (nor do I want to), and B) I have to draw the line somewhere.)
Then, finally, I am able to retreat into the house, sit down at my laptop, and move on with my day (because, I’m a grownup).
The whole porch performance is a little demeaning, a little exploitative. I always cringe thinking a neighbor might drive by and see what my children have done to me. But every morning, I make my kids day by doing the butt dance.
Nobody tells you parenting will be this way.
Nobody. But I’m here to tell you, parenting will strip away every last ounce of self-respect you accumulated in your lifetime. Your children will throw it to the floor and stomp on it. And laugh maniacally the entire time.
(Just kidding. I love the butt dance, too.)