It’s a relief. Harry loves school. He goes in to the classroom with a spring in his step. He chats about his day, the other children, his learning and his much loved teacher.
So why, in God’s name, is it so darned impossible to get him dressed in the morning?
“I’m just playing with my toys!”
“I’m just watching this mummy.”
“Im just surgically attached to my iPad!”
I’m just, I’m just, I’m just… I can’t think where he gets that from. His father has NEVER picked me up on that before.
No one wants a full body wrestle with a four-year-old at 8am. There are no winners. Bets on I’ll end up with a sock-less foot in the eye and he’ll end up getting maimed by my acrylics.
I am however a stickler for punctuality. Let’s be upfront, I’m religiously ten minutes early every day. But that should not impact on anything considering we get up at 7am.
We’ve got the first part of the routine down-pat. I shower. Wake him up. Porridge. Mummy puts on her slap (no need to scare small children at the gates). Mummy dries hair and gets dressed whilst he has a short iPad slot. Then it should read: teeth, dressed and out the door. Simple huh!
Until the “I just’s” kick in. And the wails. And the refusal. And the “I don’t want to go to school’s”. By this point I’m clock watching, getting twitchy and starting to resemble Medusa in my impatience (never my forte).
During one of these bouts of flagrant disobedience, heavily laden with all the empty threats from me, I grabbed his scooter and told him we were leaving in his pyjamas. The scooter is our mode of transport to school to counteract the other morning issue: the “my-legs-ache-I-can’t-walk-any-further” debate. It’s a four minute walk people!
He then proceeded to whizz backwards and forwards in the living room. That was when it hit me. The boy loves a challenge. Chuck in a bit of reverse psychology and I was on to a win.
For the following 4.2 minutes, I told him there was no way he could scoot to the end of the room and back and get dressed, with one piece of clothing each time, before the end of his favourite song.
It took two beats of “Hellcat”, a jaunty dubstep electronic number, before he was whizzing off and giggling away. Back again and off he jumped from his mean machine, whipping down his pjs and exchanging them for some pants. On this went… t-shirt, trousers, socks, tie, jumper, until he was fully dressed and high-fiving me as we’d beat the song (may have done a cheeky rewind of a few bars, but I was breeding success).
Not one to sit on my laurels, we then mixed it up with some running races and some hopping.
But today, today I peaked! Today was the pinnacle of my parenting thus far.
I’d got the the stage of proceedings where my clothes and slap were on, but I needed to dry my hair. It was 7:58. We leave at 8:30.
The muse had taken me. I grabbed his list of sight words from school, some sticky magnet discs, my pack of blank business cards and pot of coloured pens.
I scribbled last week’s words in red and the week before’s in blue. As quickly as my false nails would allow, I peeled the backs of the magnets and stuck my word cards to the fridge.
I checked my watch. 8:07. Feck! I raced upstairs, blasted my hair, praised the gods it was now a bob and was downstairs by 8:15.
Lured in to the kitchen with the promise of a game, he surrendered his iPad willingly. This time I instructed him to get me a red card, bring it to me, and here comes the 8am moment of wonder: READ IT TO ME. Then he had to put on an item of clothing.
Not only had I made our routine out of the ordinary, but I’d shoe-horned in a cheeky bit of learning to boot. Nothing original. Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated. But we were out the door by 8:29 and he even managed some tricky words.
I’d call that a parenting win. Oh, apart from the fact, in my haste, I forgot to brush his teeth. Did them doubly well tonight. Please forgive me dentist!
How do you make morning routines fun?