08 March 2007

Uncaffinated parenting

Today, Bella and Bubaloo have been living with us for 1 month + 3 days. In 2 days, Wifey and I will have been a partnership for 4 years. Since becoming a full time parent, I've upped my daily coffee consumption from 1 to 3 cups. And, this morning was a testament to why I should never again consider parenting without coffee.

Our children, particularly Bella, need lots of cueing and redirection in the morning. Until a month ago, I never really thought it would be possible to ask the question, "what were you doing for the past 30 minutes," and get a blank look. Because literally, she was doing nothing. Sometimes, she spends 20 minutes looking at herself in the mirror. Other times, she spends 15 minutes picking out an outfit, looking for a sock, petting the dog or brushing her teeth. Sometimes she'll use 10 minutes to get her lunch from the fridge and put it in her bag. And at others, she'll take 5 minutes to locate her snowpants and jacket in the front hall closet, which at most has a maximum of 8 jackets in it.

She dawdles, she dilly dallies, and often she makes us late.

This morning, due to a miscommunication with Wifey, we delivered conflicting cues. The end result was that she didn't have her skates ready to go and we had to leave house or we'd miss the bus.

Wifey had prepped the skates the evening before, but neglected to put said skates and helmet in a bag for transportation. The same child who can't remember her mitts, hat, scarf and book bag at the same time and loses precious items to the vortex under her bed daily, isn't quite yet ready to separately carry two skates and a helmet to school (regardless of the fact she literally cannot carry all that stuff).

As I hustled her out the door, Wifey mentioned the skates to Bella. Since it would take Bella the time we didn't have because she opted to spend the last 15 minutes doing ________ (insert tooth brushing here?, and definitely not brushing her hair or putting outdoor clothes on), I had to make the executive call that we couldn't bring the skates.

The flood of tears from Bella and the death eyes from Wifey clearly made that the wrong decision. But, the stubborn person I am who was already freezing my butt off in -31 weather, said screw it, and decided to deliver the logical lesson of choice. I didn't not deliver the lesson of let's support our kids and have them start off the day right, which apparently was not a good choice on my behalf.

"Well, Bella," I said as we trugged down the street. "I know it really sucks that you won't have your skates today to skate. That's really disappointing. Too bad you chose to spend your time upstairs after breakfast instead of getting your skates together. I guess next time, you'll consider making a different choice."

I guess that stung, because the flood of tears multiplied thousand fold, and the walking was even slower. Along with the pouting and feet shuffle/thump on the pavement.

Running down the street yelling "Hurry up" to Bella, dragging Bubaloo by the hand (who was snowpantless and mittless by choice with said items in bag and not on body complaining about the cold), having the Wifey walk determinedly behind us with anger, and the poochie pulling on his leash must have been quite a scene for those making their daily commute.

The bus arrived right away. Bella left without a good bye, kiss or hug. I threw it on thickly sweet, "Have a great day, Bella. I love you." Kissed and hugged a stunned Bubaloo who looked as if his loyalties were divided between his sister and myself. Watched my Wifey storm away muttering about my battles and me.

And then, the poochie took a poo.

In front of the bus stop that had just watched our family drama, acknowledged by lack of eye contact, I searched my pockets for a poo bag. The people were watching my dog poop. I called out to Wifey meekly, "Do you have a plastic bag? The bag went with the kids on the bus."

"No," she responded.

The disapproval and shunning by the gathered collection of neighbours at the bus stop radiated as I threw up my hands and walked away. To no one in particular I called out, "Well poochie, I guess we're going home to get a bag." Just so, you know, the neighbours would know that I'm not THAT dog owner.

I got home. Exhausted. Drank a coffee to gain perspective.

Just for the record, the poop is still out there.

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