It hurts me more than you, kid

One of the greatest challenges of parenting is that when you make threats, eventually you have to follow through with at least one of them. I was in that boat on Sunday. We need to leave for church at around 9:45 each Sunday. This is nothing new - we've been going for six years and church has always started at 10:00. I should also add that my daughter knows how to tell time.

She was awake by 7:30 a.m. yesterday. So, if you are following along with the math, she had over two hours to get her act together. I gave her a couple several about a hundred thousand warnings that she needed to brush her teeth, comb her hair, and make her bed. I passed her bedroom at around 9:40 and observed that she was lying on her back on the floor, her feet propped up on her bed. She was fiddling with a roll of masking tape. Lately she is on a kick that involves making stuff out of paper and masking tape. She makes these little origami frogs and can churn them out at a rate of 10+ per hour. In any case, I could see that she was not ready to go anywhere.

Her dad was in bed, nursing a headache. "I'm about to leave you with a very bad scene," I warned him. "There is no way she can get everything done in the next five minutes. I am leaving without her."  He nodded.

I grabbed my coat and my purse. The kid could see that I was leaving.  She jumped up and frantically started brushing her hair. "There's no way you can get it done. You have to stay," I told her. She started to cry.

"No, mama, no!" She wailed as though I'd just canceled summer or something.

I walked out the garage door and got in my car. I could hear her frantically brushing her teeth.  She grabbed her coat and ran out the door after me. By this time, I had started the car and was about to back out of the garage. Normally, I would have opened the sliding door on the passenger side to let her in, but I didn't.  I could see her tear-streaked face in the window. She smacked the window with open palms and pleaded with me to let her in. "No, mama!  I want to go!"  I felt my heart lurch but I wanted her to learn a lesson. She needs to learn that church starts when it starts - not when Her Highness arrives. Just then, P came out into the garage and made her come back inside.  I could hear my daughter wailing as her dad tugged her back into the house.

I pulled out and closed the garage door. I swallowed hard. Man, this parenting stuff is not easy. I turned right out of our cul-de-sac and drove a few blocks.  Then I pulled out my phone and called the house.  I wanted to get P's input as to whether or not I should come back for her. I could hear Miss Procrastinator still wailing in the background. He and I chatted and agreed that she had probably learned her lesson. I drove back and picked her up. It was a very sullen and contrite little girl who climbed into my van.

I will be honest. I only went back for her for one reason. The RE (religious education) teachers put a lot of time and effort into preparing the lessons each week. So, I didn't want the RE teacher to go to all that trouble and then not have many students. The Grade 2-5 class is pretty small. Next time, though, I will not go back for her.

When she goes to college, I hope she doesn't sign up for any early classes. I'm pretty sure it's a recipe for disaster.


The clock is from here:


Sam said…
I read this post about 10 minutes after I used every ounce of self control I have not to yell at my kid, "Put on your fucking pajamas now!!!" (This was after me asking him patiently about 500 times.) I stopped myself, but only barely.

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