Tuesday, January 10, 2012


We were late to school today, for the first time ever, thanks to His Royal Highness Sir Know-it-All McBossy Boots. At 8:10, I tossed his clothes for the day on the couch while he gazed glassy-eyed at the TV, apparently food coma'd out from his french toast and milk and said, "time to get dressed, Ethan!" To which he replied with all the sullen annoyance of a 14 year old girl, "I have plenty of time, momma," and went back to whatever animated drivel was flashing in front of him at the time (that would be Chuggington, Disney's Thomas rip off.)

Plenty of time, you say? Okay. I'm a fan of natural consequences. Someday that child is going to school in his pajamas. So I reminded him that his tone was unacceptable (because that? not okay) and went off to get myself ready for the day (the magical lure of Chuggington has no hold on me. But Matt Lauer was in my room making cheeky small talk with Ann Curry, so I had to get in there ASAP).

Sure enough, 15 minutes later, at 8:25, a mere 15 minutes before we needed to be out the door, Ethan was still not dressed. He had grown bored with the cartoon trains and their lessons about responsibility and honesty, and had located one of his light sabers (see previous post). I found him, still in his Batman jammies, standing on the back of the couch, poised to take out General Grievous, or some such Clone Wars baddie (hello, not the real Star Wars).

"Ethan, get dressed. Now. We're going to be late."

"Mom, I KNOW! I am getting dressed!" Seriously, he's standing on the back of the couch, light saber above his head, in his jammies, clothes still on the other couch exactly where I put them 15 minutes ago. I don't know what part of this could possibly be considered "I am getting dressed," but 5 year olds have this uncanny way of believing that if they say something out loud, it must be true. "You don't have to always actually remind me!" (he loves to throw the word "actually" into as many sentences as he can, whether it belongs there or not.) Insolent scowling teenage tone gives way to weepy kindergarten whining. Have you heard that? Its somewhere between nails on a chalk board and and two alley cats duking it out. So, pretty. But at least its age-appropriate. I assure him that unless he can actually dress without my reminders, yes, I do actually have to remind him.

Thus commences yet another discussion about his tone (disrespectful and unacceptable) and his decision-making skills (um, poor, at this moment) and a pouting Ethan puts on his clothes. Once the dressing is finally complete, the tooth brushing battle begins. This is one where natural consequences aren't acceptable because teeth are kind of, well, necessary for the eating and the talking and the looking not-scary for the rest of your life. Important things. So the natural consequence of "don't brush your teeth, your teeth rot"? Not going to work for me.

So after telling him twice to brush his teeth (and threatening to confiscate the light sabers, "do you really want to put the entire galaxy at risk over a couple of teeth, Ethan???!!!") I went about my business, listening for the sound of water running in the bathroom.

Funnily enough, without my ever having heard the water run, Ethan emerged from the bathroom, moments later, declaring his teeth clean and himself ready to save the galaxy from Ventress and the Rancor monster. (whoever named these Clone Wars characters really phoned it in, in my opinion. What happened to the Boba Fets, the Wookies and the TaunTauns? Words make up out of the blue, no connotation, no connection to words in the English (or any) language. Rancor? General Grievous? Lame.)

A quick check of all four of his tooth brushes (don't ask) revealed not one wet one, and no sign of tooth paste on any. Sigh. Thus ensued the biggest battle of the morning. The one that involves the whole "LYING IS WRONG!!!!!" part of the battle. Where Ethan tries to convince me that even though he "lied" he didn't really "lie" so much as "pretended." And then we talk about the difference between "lying" and "pretending" and on and on and on. That's a fun one.

After several moments of ensuring me that he had, indeed, brushed his teeth and that he had actually dried his toothbrush on a towel (seriously?!), I sadly had to remove the light saber from the fearless Jedi amidst much foot stomping and "You're so mean to me!!!!!!!"'ing. I ensured him the only thing he was responsible for saving in this particular galaxy was his teeth and to get into the bathroom and start brushing and that I was going to be there in a second to make sure he was doing it this time.

Grumble. Grumble. Grumble. "You don't HAVE to watch me brush my teeth," he muttered. "Apparently I do, Ethan. When I don't watch you? You don't do it. What part of that aren't you getting?"

Finally, 15 minutes later, we are ready to leave. Only problem is that "15 minutes later" is when we're supposed to be walking through the door of his classroom, not out the door to our car. As we are heading out the door, we begin the "can I bring my light saber to school" part of the whole morning melodrama. Delightful. Apparently there is a belief among 5 year olds that the longer they draw out the long "e" sound in the word "pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease," the more likely parents are to oblige them & their ridiculous demands. Someone needs to clear this misunderstanding up for them.

I did my part by ensuring him that no amount of pleading or long "e" sounds was going to make me change my mind, he was not going to bring a weapon-eque toy to school to wield at his classmates, and that this was not only my rule, but also the rules of the school and stop trying to argue with me that a light saber isn't really a weapon. "Did a light saber kill Obi Wan?! Did a light saber chop of Luke Skywalker's hand? Okay, then. Its a weapon. It stays at home. End of discussion. We are very late. Get in the car. NOW."

The raising of the voice creates all kinds of undesirable reactions in my child. Tears, further whining and declaring me "mean" and "too demanding," to which I reply, "If I have to be mean and demanding to get you to school, I guess I am." The drive to school is rife with pouty "haruuuummmpppphs" from the back seat Jedi in futile attempts to continue the discourse which has now caused us to be late enough that the entire traffic pattern to school has evolved to a rush hour mess and I'm stuck behind 10 cars at the light instead of the usual 2 and parking at the school is going to be a cluster and that's going to make us even later and OMG WHY CAN'T HE JUST GET DRESSED WITHOUT A FIGHT???????


When we finally get to school and walk into the office for a late slip, for the first time ever, the principal welcomes us with smiles and a cheery "This is your first late slip? And in January?! Good track record, Ethan!"

WHAT?????!!!! No, no, no, no!!! I love the school and I adore the principal but PLEASE don't make it okay that my kid is late to school! I know its not the end of the world and I tempered my "we're late! Its not okay to be late to school," lectures with "it's not the end of the worlds" and whatnot. I'm not interested in breaking my child's spirit over a freaking late slip, but COME ON! He needs to know that respecting me, and a schedule, and the time of his teacher and classmates, and his education, is IMPORTANT. It's not super duper that this is the first time he's been late to school. Sigh. I'm not looking for anyone to hand him a detention slip over it, but a gentle, "let's not let this happen again, okay, buddy?" would have been nice.

So tomorrow, given how closely we've been cutting it lately with our schedule and running late, the light sabers are going to be disappearing during our morning routine until he's dressed and his teeth are brushed. That's going to be fun. If you happen to hear a caterwauling banshee howl sometime around 8am PST, that's my kid, a lone Jedi protesting the evil Empire.


Crafty is the new black said...

Oh, Bwould LOVE that school. I am looking forward to B having to go to the office to get a late slip when he is late dropping P off (rarely by any fault of her own) I'm hoping a disapproving principal can teach him what I cannot.

SnarkyMommy said...

Good God, we are kicking the bell every day and we live five blpcks from school. It's embarrassing. But, I can proudly say that in three years, we have yet to get a tardy slip. I have no idea how.

Chiconky said...

OMG. That is our morning, right down to the multiple toothbrushes (which have now been categorized into "morning" and "night" by characters I don't recognize or understand). FWIW, it's really helped us to eliminate the morning tv. Eli is a ZOMBIE anytime it's on. Even if C is watching "The history of concrete." Drives me absolutely batty.

Sarah said...

Why won't they just get dressed? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy????

Love your Star Wars logic with the light saber. Ha!!

Grandma Bear said...

E's father wasn't allowed to watch TV until he was dressed and had breakfast. Somehow he interpreted that as meaning he could put his shoes and socks on while watching TV. Of course they never went out the door and then it was scrambling out the door trying to put his shoes on when the van arrived to pick him up. I think I ended up making shoes and socks mandatory before TV as well. So he comes by it honestly :-)