Monday, September 10, 2012

Back to School

August spoiled me.  With my teacher’s manual completed, a few proposals in the works, and everyone in the world on vacation, I took a very welcome hiatus from my zany work schedule. 

September was a slap across the face.  Everything has suddenly switched into fifth gear.  Once again, I have somewhere I have to be in the morning. 

So does Sophia, though she refuses to believe it. 

I honestly believe I could cope with almost any behavior, if time wasn’t a factor.  I could exercise infinite patience, if I didn’t have such a finite period in which everything must be accomplished. 

Time pressure turns me into a nag.  It turns Sophie into mule.

The stubborner Sophie is, the naggier I become.  It is a perfect, positive correlation.

For example, if I have a train that I have to make, which is contingent upon me dropping Sophia off at school by a particular time this is what happens:

Sophia, who is up at the crack of dawn on the weekend, will still be asleep at 7:30.  So then I have a choice:  wake her up and face her wrath, or let her sleep and have an even tighter time frame to work with.  I choose the path of least resistance.  I open her door, turn on the light, and create as much ambient sound as I dare.

At last she wakes, one angry eyeball peeking out from behind her pink covers.  I can tell that I have my work cut out for me. 

“Mommy, read me a book.”  She says, still in bed. 

“I’m sorry, Soph, but we don’t have time for me to climb into bed with you right now.  I’ll read you a book while I’m brushing your teeth.”

“Then play a game with me.  You be the baby, I’ll be the mommy.”

“Soph, I just explained we don’t have time.  Maybe we can pretend that at breakfast if you get dressed first.”

“I want to wear my princess dress.”

“You can do that after school.  Right now you have to put on clothes.”

“I’m not ready yet!  Give me a minute!”  (I think she stole this line from me.)

“Okay, I’ll give you a minute while I’m making breakfast.  But I want you downstairs and dressed by the time it’s ready.”

“OKAY!” She yells at me, shrilly, making no move to get out of bed. 

I have learned that it is better to go than to stay.  It’s a gamble.  You never know what she’s going to show up wearing.  But hovering over her only prolongs the process. 

I go downstairs to make oatmeal, but 10 minutes later she has still not emerged. 

“Sophie!  Breakfast is just about ready!”  I call to her.

“I am coming!”  She screams back, much to my relief. 

But then she appears, wearing the most impractical of clothing. Outfits two sizes two small that she has dug out of the bags of hand-me-downs I have stowed in the guest room.  A velvet party dress from last year’s holiday season.  Clothes layered on top of pajamas. 

Stuff like that. 

“Sophie…”  I begin.

“I’m wearing this.  I’m already wearing it!”  If it’s not too heinous, or too small, or too out-of-season, I let it go.  Not all battles are worth fighting.  However, if it is any of these things, I have to march back upstairs with her and, reminding her of what she’s earing her stars for, select something slightly more appropriate. 

Time keeps on ticking. 

Then there is breakfast.  She sits down, already grumpy, takes a bite and declares she’s not eating it.  She runs into the living room, dives into the couch and burrows into the pillows. 

Kevin counts to five.  I am not sure what he plans to do if he ever reaches five, but she comes back and eats her oatmeal.

Now there is packing the lunch.  She wants input into what she eats.  “I’ll pick my yogurt!” she announces. 

“Fine,” I reply as I cut up her strawberries.  But she stands in front of the open refrigerator, just staring at her options. 

“Sophie, you can have a turkey sandwich, raspberry yogurt or mango honey.”

“I want egg salad.”

“I don’t have time to make egg salad.  I’ll make it on Thursday.” 

We have to be out the door in less than five minutes.  Finally I explode.  “What’s it gonna be?  Turkey sandwich or yogurt, or should I make the decision for you?”

“Turkey sandwich! Turkey sandwich!”

Kevin leans in to kiss me goodbye.

“Fine.”  I am huffy now.  I make her lunch, grab her comb and tooth brush.  We are officially running late.  I start to comb her hair and she shrieks, “OW! You are hurting me.” 

“I wouldn’t be hurting you if you sat still.” 

“You promised me you would read me a book.”

“Sophie, you took so long to do everything, we don’t have time for a book.”

“I want a book.”

“I will read a couple pages if you will sit still, but I am not reading a whole book.”


Five minutes late.

She gets the book, I read several pages as I untangle her hair and scrub the oatmeal out of her molars.

“Okay.  Let’s go.  Out the door now.  Pick up your lunch box.”  I hate the way I sound.  Harsh.  All business.  This is not how I like to start the day. 

We march out the door. 

Then I realize I forgot my keys…purse…work.  I run back inside to get it. 

“Hurry up, mom!”  Sophie calls from the car.  “We’re going to be late to school.  I don’t want to be late.”

I look at her and sigh.

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