Friday, June 24, 2011

Simple Procedures? Not with Children!

When rearing children, everything is a project. I'll never know why, but following simple procedures is beyond the still-developing minds of the very young. Take, for example, trying to leave the house with children.

The other day, I told my eleven year old what time it was, what she needed to do to be ready for riding lessons, and what time we were leaving. (Sounds organized--doesn't it?) My son should have been less complicated; all he needed was his shoes. Instead, this is what happened:

"Tiny? Tiny. What are you doing? Put that down. Clean that up. Where are your shoes? Are those your shoes? Behind you, where you have been playing. Those? All mixed up with your toys? Put your shoes on. No, put that down. Get your shoes. No, son, other foot. No, that shoe. Okay, finish putting on your shoes. Come downstairs when you have cleaned up your mess."

Meanwhile, his sister walked the house in riding breeches and stockinged feet, saying, "I can't find my helmet. It's not in the silver tub."
"I know it's not in the silver tub, sweetheart. It doesn't belong there. Go check your room."
"But it was in the silver tub!"
"It was not in the silver tub and doesn't belong there. Go check your room."
"I checked my room. It's not there!"
"So go check the car, then." Chicken Little headed to the SUV and explored the trunk and recesses under the back seat bench. Meanwhile, this was now taking place:

"Tiny, choose one toy to take with you. No. One. One toy. I see you have two. Fork over the one in your shirt. Hand it to Mommy." Tiny held his ground, one Transformer toy clutched in his hand and the other clumsily concealed in his shirt. (Mind you sometimes he shoves things in his pants and I have to frisk him before we leave a store.) With no cooperative movement from my son, I began the count. "One." Still he stood feet planted and fingers clenched about the two toys. "Two." He stared back unblinking.
"Three. Time out. Go to your room." Crying, tears, and the usual, "Whhhhhyyyyyyyy?" As he headed upstairs, my daughter came back into the house and said she couldn't find her helmet.

"Oh, dude. You lost your helmet. Geez. Ok, maybe it's at the ranch." The price of a new helmet ran through my head briefly. "Just go check your room one more time. That is where your helmet belongs."
"Just do it. Go on. Check again to be sure."

Eventually, my daughter came downstairs with her helmet that had been hanging on her bedroom wall the entire time. She showed it to me sheepishly. You can't miss the helmet; it sports a lime-green and polka-dotted cover. So, helmet in hand, daughter's boots pulled on, we called down the little guy, and he showed me he was ready with his one toy (and nothing shoved up his shirt or down his pants). As the kids headed to the car to climb in, I turned to Juju who had been calmly observing the circus from her safe position on the couch and I said, "Do you see why I am exhausted before I even get out the door? Why does everything have to be a project?"

My days of simple exits and entrances are over for still another few years. There's fooling with the booster seats and the untwisting seat belts; reminders of retrieving book bags, lunch boxes, permission slips, and sports equipment; making sure the little guy doesn't get his fingers or toes slammed in the car door by his sister; making sure neither vacuous child gets hit by a car while entering or exiting my vehicle; stopping the arguing over who touched whose toy in the back seat. What kills me is when I am told I will miss these days. I was told that when my kids were babies, too. No, with those days done, I do not miss them. And as much as I adore my children, I won't miss trying to get them out of the house on time either.

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