The past few days, although glorious in that school has begun, have been as un-peaceful as possible. It’s hard to believe, really, since we were all looking forward to the return of the school bus.
But old habits die hard, and we began the school year yesterday with more of the same: “I can’t find my _____,” and “I need _____,” right before we left for the bus stop. I’m sure some of you will helpfully offer suggestions such as, “Get the kids’ uniforms/bags/lunches/forms/etc. ready the night before,” and guess what? I have requested that over and over and over and over again. (Do you recall the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Hi, I’m Alyson and I’m insane.)
The final straw, yesterday, was Child #4 casually coming into the kitchen after the “it’s time to leave for the bus stop announcement” and asking, “have you seen my pencil box?” Now, some background on the pencil box. I ordered one from Staples and it arrived broken. So, in addition to a bunch of other things that Staples.com messed up, I sent it back and ordered another one. But as that replacement pencil box didn’t appear instantaneously, I was bugged and bothered about getting its replacement — didn’t matter that it was early July, the replacement needed to be acquired right now. So on one of our errands shortly thereafter, #4 brought his money and purchased his own replacement. The directive upon our arrival home was “put it in your school bag.” End of event.
But of course it didn’t end up there. So it was missing for the first day of school, and was suddenly my problem at 7:10 a.m. on the first day of school.
I confess I went a little bit bonkers on him/them. It was the final straw.
Here’s a summary of what I said, and what I believe about parenting: it is my job to make sure they have everything they need to be healthy and successful, to be able to do the best they can in whatever circumstances they might find themselves in. I will clothe them, feed them, buy them whatever they need, and the rest is up to them. If I ask you to put away your clothes, I mean “put away your clothes,” not “throw them on the floor of the closet in a pile so that when you need a uniform shirt you have to use one that’s been lying on the floor for 3 days and is now a wrinkled mess.” If I tell you to get your socks and shoes off the family room floor, I don’t mean “go ahead and shove them in/under the couch so they are now lost and unavailable when it is time to put shoes on.” (“Lost” items are a lot like that thing about dogs and hiding their heads: a dog thinks if he can’t see you, you can’t see him. Shove a shoe under the couch, I can’t find it, it’s lost.)
There’s an adage about “the child who forgets has a mother who remembers,” and when I taught parenting classes and worked in a school, we offered suggestions to parents such as, “If Johnny forgets his lunchbox, don’t bring it to school for him. We’ll make sure that he gets something to eat. If you bring it to him, he learns that he doesn’t need to remember it — you’ll do it for him.” I buy into that (to a point. If I’m passing by the school, I bring it.) but it is backfiring on me. If I don’t make sure that the damned pencil box is in the damned book bag, then it becomes my problem at 7:10 am, however briefly. If I don’t make sure clothes are where they are supposed to be, it is my problem with T-5 minutes to the bus.
So again last night, we had a meeting of the minds. Or at least I did. Uniforms are worked out the night before, bags are packed the night before, forms are presented and signed the night before. Lunch boxes are returned to me upon your arrival home. So far so good. But we’re in the honeymoon period for sure.
And while the honeymoon continues, we had a sudden (but not unexpected) thunderstorm this morning that began as soon as #3 opened his eyes: he doesn’t want to stay after school for soccer –as he agreed with his father would be his fall activity — and so he spent almost 40 minutes crying *to me* about it. Dad was unavailable for comment (That? Murphy’s Law.).
Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
In the meantime, the Middle School sent along a note late last night with the words of a reflection from Mother Teresa that the girls shared at the opening of their school year. I’m going to print out a copy for every room in the house — and perhaps laminate it also, because I do love a good laminating project — and have us recite it every time we change rooms. Bathrooms included.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
UPDATE: The pencil case was found today, after Day 2 of school, but let me be clear: he didn’t look for it. He stumbled upon it as he was climbing on furniture in the “study” room. (As you can imagine, climbing isn’t sanctioned by the People in Charge.) Breathe easier, my friends.