When you're raising a toddler, every living moment can be an emotional roller coaster. Take, for instance, the 15-minute ride to drop him off at preschool. Here's how to cope.
Stage 1: Resistance
This sets in as soon as I ask him to get his shoes on, brush his teeth or try to go potty before we get into the car. "NOOO, I don't need to, MOM!" Over the next 8 minutes, through a delicate combination of M&M-fueled bribery, acting like I don't care, and utilizing the same persuasion tactics I used to charm even the most difficult interviewees in my TV news days, he will eventually do what I've asked.
And if not, he'll pee himself on the way to school.
Stage 2: Rage
The screams usually start as we're pulling out of our neighborhood. You know, right as I'm about to make that dangerous unprotected left turn onto the busy street. He's not mad he's going to school. He's just mad that I'm making him do something. Like sit in his car seat and drive to a church preschool on a perfectly-beautiful fall day. I know, I'm so mean.
Stage 3: Arguing
The arguing has nothing to do with anything. It's totally non-sensical. "Mom, I want a snack." "I want a donut. NOW, Mom." My best strategy is to address every concern in a loving way and try my darndest to laugh out loud.
Stage 4: Sorrow
After the arguing gets boring, the tears start. This morning, my husband left for a business trip, so out of nowhere, he started crying hysterically for Daddy. The sobs slowly become uncontrollable shrieks, and I've found that no amount of verbal calming can change this.
Accept and power through.
Stage 5: Distraction
If you get past the crying stage, you're thrilled to be entering into the distraction phase. This is when you will hear a variety of random, non-sensical, and incredibly intriguing groupings of totally unrelated words and phrases. "Why this lady I have blue I fly airplane hit Jackson."
This is a fun stage of the drive, a time when I get comfortable and happy. We're almost to school, and things are good. And then, stage 6 hits.
Stage 6: Something with the Shoes
Right on cue, just about every morning. Once we get to the intersection of 22nd Avenue and 4th Street, there's always an issue with the shoes. They're too tight. They're falling off. He doesn't like his socks. He wants his other shoes. There's dirt on his shoe.
Something always needs to be fixed with the shoes.
"Sweetheart, I'll fix them when we get to school. We're almost there." Good grief.
Stage 7: Resistance, Part II
"I don't want to go to school." It always happens as he realizes we're on the street his school is on. He says this every morning, even though every morning, he literally runs into his teacher's arms and almost knocks her over because he's so excited to get into his class. Luckily, his mood softens as he sees all his friends walking toward the class. Whew.
Stage 8: Success!
Congratulations. Your kid is now at school. You now have exactly 2 hours and 45 minutes to go to the post office, bank, take the baby to the doctor, get diapers at Target and do all your grocery shopping for the week. Good luck.
Oh, and good luck on the drive home, when the whole process repeats.
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