Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Mom Whose Children Are Late for School

By late, I don't mean 5 or 10 minutes. That kind of late usually irritates me. Or even 15 or 20 minutes. By that time, I'm starting to get really annoyed. 30 minutes late - which has never happened before, except for the time I got stuck in the snow in the driveway - makes me quite furious.

But, oh, no no no. You have no idea what I mean when I say "late". This morning, one darling child made us thirty-eight minutes late for school. Yes, you read that right - I pulled out of the driveway 38 minutes later than I normally do. "Livid" is the only way to describe my feelings.

This particular child is the one who always makes us late. Always. But never this late. This morning, it was, "My boots are wet". So, wear your shoes. "My shoes are wet, too." Then wear your church shoes. "My church shoes are too tight, and besides I have PE today." Too bad! Wear them anyway and bring your tennis shoes and hope they dry by the time you have PE. And yes, these were her only 3 options. She is the queen of picky when it comes to shoes (and most other clothing, for that matter). I can -without exaggeration - visit 10 shoe stores in an afternoon with her, and she will still walk away empty-handed because "this one's too tight" or "this one's too loose" or "this one is too low at the heel" or "this one pinches my toes", etc. etc. etc. (And believe me, I could go on with the etc.'s, but you get the point.)

So, for 38 minutes, she chose to simply NOT put on shoes or boots. I tried to put them on her feet for her, but she kicked them off. And she's too big for me to carry her out the door. So, I fought, struggled, bribed, argued, for 38 minutes. I finally called my husband and asked him to talk to her. He did. He told her she had to wear her boots. She hung up and still refused.

I'm not sure how I finally got her into the car, but I did. We usually pray together on the way to school, but I told everyone I was far too angry to pray so they had just better be quiet on the way to school. And pray that I don't purposely run into a telephone pole.

In all seriousness, I would appreciate input on how to deal with this kind of defiance. She is our toughest kid in terms of discipline because she is never a peaceful recipient. And I realize that most kids don't enjoy punishment and probably make some fuss about receiving it. But if your kids throws a tantrum, then my kid has a thermonuclear meltdown. Yes, it's really that bad. And it's not that we don't punish her, but we have yet to find something that actually works long-term AND that doesn't threaten our hearing because of the violent screaming that results.

What was worse about this AM was that I had been up for 2 hours in the night with extremely uncomfortable indigestion, and then the coffee I made this morning was weak: Double Whammy! (I never make weak coffee! What the heck???)

Anyway, after I dropped off the kids, I drove through Tim Horton's for medicinal purposes. It's a good thing that I had let my anger cool a little, though. The way I felt when I left the house - did I mention we were 38 minutes late!!! - I could have easily screeched into the drivethrough lane and yelled, "Give me some damn coffee and no one gets hurt!" However, I was settled enough to drive in like a sane human being, which is a very good thing, since there were 4 or 5 police cars in the parking lot. (My first thought was, "what the heck is going on here?", but then I quickly realized, "Ooohh, it's a donut shop.")

So, I got my strong coffee, the best breakfast sandwich in the world, a blueberry muffin, and some OJ.

That was 2 hours ago.

I think my blood pressure is finally starting to come back down.


  1. When Genea struggles in an area, she has to get it done first. First, as in before she eats. When all her requirements are done, she has breakfast. If she has time then she can watch dinosaur train before leaving.
    I don't know about your daughter, but Genea is a rigid little girl who hates change. So if she was really screwing around getting ready, or getting shoes on or whatever, I might very well leave without her. Let the school know this is an unexcused absence. She can spend the day in the worst possible way. Doing nasty chores, sitting on her bed with nothing to do but sit, whatever would motivate her to be ready earlier the next day. She might carry it out a few days but would probably come around quick. Yes, your other children might think that was a great idea to try too, but if she is miserable enough with her "choice", it might spark a fire under them too.
    Good luck. It sounds like she is having a blast controlling the whole family on this.

  2. We live near that particular Tim Horton's and we call it "the policeman coffee shop".

    I recommend Heather Forbes and "Beyond Consequences". The usual disciplinary tactics work with most kids, but there are others who for whatever reason are acting from some place of fear - not just laziness or whatever.

    Also....for what it is worth, we are trying at our house something new, and it is really working some wonders....hm....maybe I'll just write about it on my own blog.

  3. The other thing I'll mention (posted my reply too soon, I guess) is the benefit that comes from what comes not-at-all-naturally to me: preparing the night before. Now, it is not like I can prepare MYSELF the night before, but Anastasia, the fussy one, does. And, it actually relaxes ME to know her clothes, shoes, everything is laid out ready to go, because the state of her hair and nails are enough threat to morning sanity.

  4. well... my 3 boys are or were exactly like that at some point. I would say pick the child up and move them to the car...but if she is too big your options are limited.

    the only thing that has worked for me is to realize that they all need to prepare for school hours or a day beforehand. lay everything they need out and say they can't change their minds at the last min on what to wear ... wake them up extra early to allow them to mentally prepare for school etc...

  5. Sorry, what a bummer! I HATE the 'leaving the house stress'. I made certain kids (especially) lay out stuff the night before. But, I also very often use (and like) the reward idea. As soon as the resistance starts, I might say, OK, everyone in the car in 5 minutes if you want some gummy snacks! (Or whatever-- maybe Donut holes from TH?) After missing out on this tasty treat a few times.. it may sink in. Just remember.. some kids don't learn the first time.. or the second.. or the third. Some are just difficult.
    As far as tantrums go.. we literally crack down on those. No way. No how. Go ahead and try. See what happens. (Black-out in our house-- different ages looks different. For elem. kids it might mean, no TV, no sugar cereal, no syrup, no juice, etc. for a day or so. My older kids it means no TV, no mp3 player, no dessert. whatever you decide. But, tantrums get major consequences.. )

    They get one warning.. "You better get ahold of yourself now, so you don't get in trouble. Please get some shoes and meet me in the car for some fruity snacks!"

    oOH... and you could send a note to the teacher "No PE for my little one today. She refused to put on her tennis shoes!"

    Good Luck and good job not running into a telephone pole. I am sure that took some self-control on your part!! :)

  6. Mornings like that throw your entire day off!

  7. Send your kid to school in her pajamas. Then she will learn the true impact of behavior. Where I live, if a kid is late to school more than three times a school year the parent has to go to court.

  8. BTW, you have a great writing style and honesty. You should start writing a book. You have enough posts to fill a book - so either sift through them and re write or start writing a page a day of your new best seller!


If you leave a comment, you will make me the happiest blogger in blogdom!