This past Monday morning, my 4 year old spent the 15 minutes between when my husband went to work and when we should have gotten on the school bus screaming that “he wants Daddy.” Not only was he screaming, he was also crying. Like big ole’ crocodile tears crying. Crying like you would expect a child to cry when their Daddy was deployed to some far off land for 2-6 months. This was not the case. My child has never experienced that kind of separation. Daddy was going to work. Just like Every. Freaking. Monday. You see, what happened on this Monday was the 4 year old’s legs stopped working so he actually couldn’t quite make it to the bus. We could see it, but we weren’t quite there- you know, the thing nightmares are made of.
Mondays are truly the worst.
My children are either over-tired because we crammed so many family memories into one weekend that the weekend basically exploded. Or they are pissed at us because we “didn’t do anything”, which means we had a nice, relaxing low-key weekend. Either way, I obviously screwed up.
So my good kid ran to the bus and made it. (Settle down, I’m partly joking!) But not my 4-year-old. Nope. His legs broke. We had to turn around so I could drive him. Not only did I have to force him into his coat, boots, and mittens to rush out the door, while he questioned why it was cold outside again #springinvermont, I then had to sit in traffic at the one light in town. I had to wait through 5 cycles of red lights because, fun fact, this traffic light is the oldest traffic light in Chittenden county and was clearly developed before the invention of green light arrows.
I wouldn’t have been so annoyed about that, but for the last 3 weeks when I drove the kids to school, my four-year-old suddenly decided he doesn’t want to go to school and clung to me while I hopelessly stood next to my car because I couldn’t abandon my car in the drop-off circle, for fear of a scolding from the school and the disapproving glares of my fellow parents. Instead, I flipped through my mental card catalog of bribes and threats to pick out one that he might actually fall for this time. I am alone in this battle, but occasionally, find a sense of solidarity in the glance from another parent as they drive away. They too have been here.
As my four-year-old and I drove to school, I told him that he lost screen time for the week because of his behavior around missing the bus and that the ONLY way to get it back would be for him to go into school without tears or clinging to me. Sure, some of you might think I should be more nurturing and kind, but I’m sorry, I’m just not buying that this kid misses his dad (or me for that matter) so much that he can’t go to school for 2 1/2 hours. The 4-year-old reluctantly agrees to my ultimatum, but I know he knows that I can’t actually stick to that consequence because a whole week without screen time is basically a punishment for myself. With a heavy heart, I pull into the circle, prepared for the struggle that lies ahead.
As I slide into my spot and turn off my car (no idling!) I see a ray of sunshine through this dark and dreary Monday.
“Look, buddy, it’s Drew! You can walk in with him!”
My four year old starts to laugh and smile, and it’s as if the last 30 minutes never existed. Daddy who? Never heard of him.
Then Drew and my child skip off into the magical land of school, where the children appear to have no separation anxiety and life is all picture books and playtime.
Drew’s mom and I lock eyes. No words are needed. We are the same. It may be 7:40 AM but the struggle to get to this point is worth an entire day at the spa. Worn and battle-weary, we get into our cars, her to go to work and me to grocery shop. We revel in the victory that was Monday morning and know that our trophy of a spa day will actually never come.
Upon my return home, I pick up the debris from my morning battle, pour myself a cup of HOT coffee and am rewarded by the opportunity to sit down and write my grocery list in peace.