Found out Wednesday night that my husband had a last minute work commitment pop up for Thursday morning, which meant he couldn’t take E to school…
Already knew that he had work early Friday morning (a busy week!), which meant I was on duty for school drop-off two mornings in a row…
I always miss my husband when he’s gone, but I never miss him more than at 7am when I am waking up sleeping siblings to load 4 kids in the car and get E to school on time.
I have considered other options:
(1) letting her ride the bus those mornings…However, the reality is that E doesn’t love the bus. She really helps our family by riding the bus home every afternoon during her brothers’ naps, and we try to help her by driving her to school in the morning. We are especially committed to this, since the bus gets to school so early that E would have to sit silently in the cafeteria until they let her in the classroom, something she asked to avoid when we originally made our grand-scheme, first-grade transportation plans.
(2) letting her carpool with a friend…and we have done this at least 3 times, but they haven’t needed us to return the favor and I was trying to avoid leaning on them again.
(3) letting her be late, which I did once when a sibling was ill, only to end up feeling horrible because (what are the chances?) she missed morning announcements on the one day they played the video of her doing a book review…three days before they were supposed to play it, by the way. Irritation, and mommy guilt overdrive (alleviated only slightly when E’s student teacher arranged for the announcements to be played again just for E…thank you, Ms. S!)
So Thursday, I was prepared to wake and load everyone, then pleasantly surprised when all the siblings were unexpectedly up and ready to go on their own…10 minutes before we actually needed to leave! Knowing disaster (or a poop, or a scraped knee, or traffic, or a meltdown…) could strike at any moment, I went ahead and put everyone into the car.
Well, we arrived a few minutes before they opened the classrooms, and knowing E didn’t like sitting in the cafeteria, I simply circled the parking lot a few times (keeping the car moving so H wouldn’t scream) waiting until the moment when I could drop her off knowing she could walk right into her room.
E was confused (I mean, we are rarely early! I’m sure it was disorienting for everyone!), and she asked why we were circling. When I explained, she said, “Oh! You can let me out now! They started reading stories to the cafeteria kids, and I don’t mind sitting and listening.”
“Are you sure?” I asked her. “I can easily park for a minute, or circle a few more times. The classrooms will be open in less than 5 minutes.”
“I’m sure”, she told me. And I let her go in.
E didn’t mention anything about her morning experience during our “how was school” conversation yesterday, and I didn’t think any more about it until this (Friday) morning, when I knew I would need to load everyone up again.
This (Friday) morning was different than Thursday. Everyone was sleeping late, and I was dreading getting them all up and into the car. T had been up all night. And I mean up to the point that at 1:30am, I finally put my computer in his room and played a Dora video so I could nurse H and get myself ready for bed. Short version: I knew he needed to sleep and was loathe to wake him up, along with S & H who were also still sleeping at 7am.
So I got E ready very quickly and at 7:05, I asked her the million dollar question. All her siblings were asleep. I didn’t want to wake them. It was too last-minute to arrange a carpool. And being late wasn’t an option, because her class was going on a field trip to the Science Museum. So, I asked her, “E, how would you feel about riding the bus this morning and letting everyone else sleep in? You could listen to the stories in the cafeteria just like you did yesterday.”
“I don’t want to, mom. Please drive me.”
So I did.
We had 10 extra minutes before we had to wake everyone, and we spent it on the couch, with her reading me a story. I felt good about that, and then felt horrible as I woke up the siblings to load everyone in.
Well, don’t you just love it when that bad feeling gets so much worse? Because as we pulled into the parking lot, E asked me, “Are we early again, mom?”
“No. Right on time today. You should walk down to your classroom.”
“Good”, she said.
“Why?” I asked her, “Did you not enjoy being in the cafeteria yesterday while they were reading the stories?”
“No. A bad thing happened.”
“What?! What happened?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Are you sure? I’m so sorry something bad happened. Are you sure you don’t want to tell me? Is it something I can help with, because I can park the car and we can all go in?”
“No. I don’t want to talk about what happened. I accidentally went in to the gym yesterday instead of the cafeteria, and that’s where the older kids [grades 2-5] wait for their classrooms to open.”
My heart totally sank for E. And I fought my desire to know every detail so I could offer every comfort because (1) she didn’t want to talk about it, and (2) I didn’t want to make her relive a bad moment, and get upset, right as she was about to walk back into the school.
So at this point, I still have no idea what happened. Was the bad thing that she went into the wrong room and was embarrassed about that? Or did something bad happen in the room…maybe an older kid teasing her about something else? I don’t know how much to push her to talk about it. If it’s something I can help her sort through or offer comfort about, then maybe pushing is worth it? But she said very clearly that she didn’t want to talk about it (at least right then).
Anyway, we did get some quality family time this afternoon. We surprised E by picking her up from school (no bus today!) and taking her to cash in the “free coke” coupon she won recently. We also picked up the pottery piece she painted with Grammy during her visit last week (held at the store for glazing…E was so excited to get it today…thank you so much Grammy!), and checked the bike store for the third time in two weeks to see if any good used girls bikes had come in (and one had! we currently have it for a trial period, but I think it’s going to be perfect…)
(And lest you think the other kids were neglected, there were a few fun things thrown in for them too – suckers at the pharmacy where we picked up E’s asthma medicine, ice cream cones after dinner, a set of used bases for family T-ball games from the sports store, etc.)
Nothing uber-fancy…all things we were going to do at some point…but today seemed like good timing…a fun post-school pick-up for the girl that has done the post-school bus ride for the rest of us all year.
And a distraction for the mama that wants the schoolyear to end so she can put her kids back into the little bubble – for just a little while – that is our family.
Not that we don’t have our moments…but at least I know most of what happens, who needs to say sorry, what my kids are feeling (and why and when).
Anyone want to throw all the “we need to stop micromanaging our kids’ lives” articles into the garbage and form a helicopter-parenting commune where everyone is required to be nice to everyone else all the time? (Kidding, with just a hint of wistfulness…)
Love you, E.
(and if anyone out there actually runs with the idea of a non-creepy commune of niceness, our family is in : )