Fuck mornings, man. Seriously. I start off with the best of intentions, as does my daughter. Somewhere along the way we manage to either push each other’s buttons or to find some sort of self-destruct button and push that one.
Both of us desperately need set routines. Now, I have had 40 years to get used to how life works and though I love and need routines, I can roll with changes and little disruptions. The kid, not so much. She’s had 11 years and that is so not enough time. Some mornings are great. We do everything we need to and leave for school on time and then I go to work, on time as well. Some mornings, not so much. We’ve had enough crappy mornings recently that I set a really nifty (if I do say so myself) visual schedule for the kid to follow in the morning. We also had a great talk about the need for the schedule and how, if she can follow it, she’d have time to do whatever stupid shit an 11-year-old wants to do before leaving for school and I’d be able to do what I have to do. Sometimes it works great. Sometimes it’s like it doesn’t even exist. That was this morning.
The kid has like five things she’s responsible for: eat, brush hair, brush teeth, get dressed, pack school bag. They don’t have to be in that order, although eat is always first. Eating is the only one of those things that happen while the wife is still home before she heads off to work. Today, it seems my first mistake was to ask the kid to get dressed before eating. She did not like this at all. I thought it was reasonable because she’d asked for French toast and I had agreed to make it. I figured that while I made her some amazing fucking french toast she could get dressed. She did it, but under duress and while arguing the merits of getting dressed before eating. Breakfast went off without a hitch. She got to spend time chatting with her mom and all was good.
After the wife left, the kid had a few things left to do. She’s supposed to do these things while I shower and get ready myself. Basically she managed to do half of each thing she was supposed to do. While I was showering, she comes flying in to the bathroom. After first complaining about the smell (the other part of my morning routine), in a panic, she start talking very quickly about how she forgot to get us to fill out a Scholastic order form (books and shit you can order through the school). I was annoyed by her initial complaint and seriously annoyed by the panic in her voice. Her panic voice hit my angry button with a hammer. She panics over some stupid shit. When I asked her (from the shower) what she wanted me to do, her answer was “Maman said I could get this writing set.” This is not an answer to the question “What do you want me to do?” I did not remain particularly calm about this. I very much want my daughter to understand that there are almost always solutions to our problems and that the best way to see these solutions is to not Fucking panic. I suggested to her that we could most likely order the writing set online. Now in tears, she said that we couldn’t. She then tearfully asked if we could fill out the form now. “I’m. In. The. Shower!” She yelled back “I meant after!” So now that we are both less than completely rational, I asked her if she was done all the things on her morning schedule. When the answer was “No, but…” I cut her off and told her to finish and then maybe we could talk about other things. Did I say this calmly? No. She’d hit the angry button with her panic voice and I was still in the shower. I yelled. Basically I told her to get the hell out of the bathroom and let me shower and to finish the things she needed to do.
Where’d I go wrong? Well, I let myself get a bit behind schedule and this made me rush a bit more than usual which brought my patience level down. Next, I spent several minutes pondering the fact that I can no longer escape to my balcony and have a smoke. This is a sure-fire way to remind me to be cranky. Add the kid’s panic voice and voila.
So, once out of the shower and at least half-dressed I tried to calm myself and her and to explain why it seemed reasonable that we could order her shit online. Of course, this was not working for her, and she tearfully told me that she and maman had tried to order online and there’d been nothing worth ordering. My patience was pretty much gone. I asked her why she was mentioning this to me monday morning. She had forgotten the oder form in her bag, for two weeks. I’m sure that I did not use the calmest tone in my repertoire when I informed her that the writing set could not have been that important to her if she hadn’t given it a thought for two weeks. This was utterly unfair of me. I know this. I knew it as I said it, but part of me was fully behind this thought, even though I know that everybody forgets shit, even important things; my little family is very good at this. Seriously, what the fuck’s my problem.
I want the kid to know what I know; so many problems are what I call “solvable problems”. We just need to stay calm long enough to see the solutions. It so doesn’t help that I tend, in the morning, to not be able to remain calm in oder to teach this lesson properly. I think that the biggest challenge in parenting is maintaining that calm little centre where you can teach and parent from, in the face of, what can only be termed, mind boggling insanity.
Again, as with the last post on this subject, it’s not her fault or my fault. It’s our fault.
P.S. I just realized what I can do that will make the mornings so much smoother. I’m going to shower upon waking, before coffee and that way I’ll be free to prod her through the routines and I’ll be free to respond to Scholastic order forms.