My Mixed Up Family

April 11, 2013

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

It started at 3:02 PM while I was at work helping a student fill out an online job application. My phone buzzed with the first after school text message from one of my children.  The elementary schools let out earlier than our secondary schools, so the last minutes of my teaching day are sometimes interrupted by text messages (and thank goodness for those or it would be land line phone calls!)

At an acceptable moment, I looked at the message to make sure it wasn't anything like a cry for help and saw,
Can I go home?

                                  No. You have band!

I don't want to go.

                                  You have to!

A few minutes later my phone received a call that I could not take, because I was at work! I declined the call with a message, "I am busy. I will call you back later." Then I finished the school day, worrying the whole time that my daughter was being totally defiant and walking around the neighborhood with friends instead of going to band. Last week she texted that she didn't feel good and didn't want to go. Is there some situation or peer at band that she's trying to avoid? Is she just suffering from spring fever and wanting to play outside instead of going to band? A million of those thoughts that only a mom can have sprang to mind. As soon as my students left, I called her back. 

She answered, "Hello?" 
"Hi. Where are you?"  
"I'm at BAND! Like you told me!! And you made me have to get up and leave class to answer my phone!!!" 

That's how it started. And it seemed like it would never end...

One night a week, our schedule is so packed that I feel like I live in my vehicle. We have to follow a carefully timed and planned routine--down to the minute--in order to get everyone fed and where they need to be on time. If we stray from the schedule--due to traffic, a need to use the bathroom, a slight hesitation--the whole house of cards falls and we are late. I'm telling you, I have this routine running like a well-oiled machine. But we can only get where we need to be on time only if everyone does what they are supposed to do. Do you think that can that happen in a house with 3 kids, aged 9-12? Of course not!

After the irritating conversation with my 11 year old, I go to get daughter #2 from her after school program. I see my 9 year old learning how to do a craft. She has not started the craft--it is being demonstrated. I say, "It's time to go, can you please go get your stuff?" and she refuses to acknowledge my existence. So I tap her on the shoulder, call her by name and repeat, "It is time to leave, can you please go get your stuff?" Again, no response. So I lean down and tell her, "If we don't leave now, you will not get to eat dinner." Do you know what she did? She picked up a bottle of glitter glue to make her craft project!!!! This part of the routine involves me picking her up, the two of us running to the grocery store for a quick to-go dinner, and then picking up my other daughter from band. Even one minute too long means we leave daughter #1 waiting (not always a good way to leave a kid with ADHD impulsivity) OR daughter #2 doesn't get to eat before dance class. So I say, "Which is more important: eating? or doing this craft?" and she kept on crafting. I just stood there, gritting my teeth, and telling her again, "We have to leave NOW." I wish she was still small enough to pick up and carry out!

Eventually, we made it out to the car. 10 minutes until band let out, and the grocery store is 5 minutes away. Daughter #1 is always the last one out of band/class/the house/you name it, so I figured we'd have some time to grab a quick bite for daughter #2. We drove to the star, parked and went in to the Italian Express counter, where they sell dollar slices of pizza. I thought it would be a quick, relatively painless proceeding: 2 slices and we're out the door! Except...they didn't have pepperoni. This turned out to be a major catastrophe. No pepperoni. "But I want pepperoni!" she whined like a preschooler.

"But they don't have pepperoni, so you'll have to choose something else."
"But I want pepperoni!" she whined again.
"But they don't have pepperoni, so you'll have to choose something else."
"But I want pepperoni!" She then proceeds to ask the guy behind the counter if he will make some pepperoni. He tells her that he can, but it will take 7-10 minutes.
I look at her and say, "We don't have 10 minutes. Your sister is getting out of band right now. We have to leave."
"But I want pepperoni!"
"Um, honey, no matter how many times you say it, it is not going to change the fact that there is no pepperoni here and we are already late."
"But I want pepperoni!"
I am reaching new heights of frustration and say, "You know, if you hadn't insisted on doing your craft, then we would've had time to come here and wait for the guy to make pepperoni. But now we are late. You either need to pick something else, or wait a long time, until after dance, before you eat dinner. What will it be?"

She didn't respond, but started walking away from me to the produce aisle, where she picked up a large bag of apples. "We are not getting a 10 pound bag of apples for dinner. Where are you going?"

She didn't respond, but started walking further away from me. Then my phone rang, and you guessed it--it was Daughter #1 wondering where I was because she is done with band and freezing outside. "Honey, we are at the store and will be there soon. But if you're freezing, why don't you just go back in the school?!?" I mean, that's not rocket science, is it? You're standing outside the school freezing, but you could easily go back inside and get warm...makes sense to me! But not to an 11 year old who wants to look cool hanging outside with the junior high kids, apparently!

After being led around the grocery store for a few more minutes I gave Daughter #2 a final 30 seconds to decide what to buy for dinner. She was threatened with loss of Easter candy and electronics use for the unforeseeable future, and complied within seconds. We hurried out to the car, drove back to the middle school and picked up her sister.

Daughter #1 was doing homework and getting ready for her later dance class while I cooked her dinner. Daughter #2 was trying to quickly eat in the 5 minutes left before she has to go to class when she tells me she really doesn't feel good. In addition, she really doesn't like tap class any more. She doesn't want to go. I'm thinking, are you kidding me? We just did all of this running and stressing just to get you to class and now you don't want to go? The recital is coming up, I just bought you new tap shoes, we already paid for the recital costume, and now you don't want to go???? "But my stummy hurts."

"Maybe you should try going to the bathroom. But make it quick, please, because your class is about to start and we need to leave."

10 minutes later, she was still in the bathroom. I paced in the hallway wearing my jacket, asking if she was ready yet. All I heard was a singsong voice saying, "I'm pooooping! and my stummy still hurts." Stummy is her new word. She says it makes more sense to combine stomach and tummy--stummy. I think it makes more sense to go to the dance class that her dad and I have been paying lots of money for all year and that she has always enjoyed until they started working on a new routine that is harder than any other routine before. I'm thinking that I know my daughter, and that everything comes so easily to her that she quits at the first sign of a challenge. I'm thinking that this is just like the math worksheet she brought home where the question said, "Write what you know about the square of a number," and she responded with one word--"stuff." If there's an easy way out, she's going to take it! But I'm not letting her take the easy way out of dance; especially because it has taken so much of my time and money! I was determined--she WILL go to dance!

And then I opened the door to the bathroom to peak at her, and she really didn't look all that well. And I started thinking, what if she really is sick? So I asked, "Do you really feel that sick?" She nodded. "Okay, then you don't have to go to dance, but you can't use any electronics or do anything fun if you're sick. You just have to lay in bed and be sick."

In the meantime, my phone rang again. My son needed a ride home from track practice, could I come get him?


Many, many of my days are like this. We go go go from 6:15AM until bedtime. And here is where I could put a sappy little ending that tells you all that, "I wouldn't change it for the world."  But truth is, I get really tired. I get tired of driving people around, tired of kids not following directions when we're trying to get someplace THEY told me they want to go, tired of cooking fast/eating on the run. There are days when I feel like I should start a countdown timer that ticks down the days until each child turns 18, when THEY WILL go to college and let me get to know my husband again, eat real food again, and leave the vehicle in the garage every night.

To all the other moms of tweens and teens I say this, Hang in there. You are not alone.

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