I hate picture day. I hated it when I was in school and I hate it now that I have kids. First of all – the stress. Knowing that whatever you look like on this particular day will live on in infamy is daunting. It also feels like another shakedown. Have you seen the prices? Are these head shots for some modeling agency, wth? This morning was a mother f*ckin’ disaster. It went completely off the rails and I have to own a large chunk of it.
It started off OK, almost good. Woke up at 5:55am without an alarm. I actually slept about 7 hours last night, rare. I woke my daughter up shortly after I was upright. It’s “Picture Day” so I knew my tween would want to do some extra primping and I thought the extra half hour would help. She came downstairs and asked if I could wash her PE uniform. Sure, I put it on the quick cycle and went about my morning routine. Switched it to the dryer when it was done, happy I hadn’t neglected that task.
Fast forward to 7:25 and I start making the “we need to leave in 5 minutes” announcement. My son is ready, he is always ready. He’s so punctual it’s annoying at times. 7:30 “we really need to leave” as I find evidence of the morning rush on the kitchen counter, assorted crumbs and incidentals. I give the “don’t leave raspberries wet in the container or they mold” talk. 7:32 “I’m getting in the car, we need to leave.” I hear my daughter rushing up the stairs, see her phone on the bench, pick it up. Daughter asks where her uniform is – “it’s in the dryer, come on we need to go”. I hand my daughter her cell phone as she gets ready to dive into the dryer to find her uniform, then I get in the car with my son.
7:34 my son and I are in the car, waiting. I’m getting annoyed, this shit happens too often and for the love of God it is still September. How horrible will this be in March. We really need to leave by 7:30 to guarantee we will get there on time without doing the walk of shame into the office where late arrivals need to sign in. “You need to get in the car now!” I scream it. I’m done, finished. A minute later I see my daughter dropping her backpack and I tell her just get in the car again for maybe the ninth time in 4 minutes. Then it happened “get in the f*cking car!” Yup, I lost it.
So now my kid is crying. Somehow, the lid for the hand sanitizer comes off and my daughter is struggling with it, sobbing. I rip the cord attaching the hand sanitizer to the back pack and place the bottle with it’s non-compliant lid in my door pocket to limit the mess. She’s begging me to let her fix the cap and I tell her to just wait. At this point I have visions of her wearing the hand sanitizer and my car already smells like a clinic from the stuff.
I have maybe 10 minutes to try to make this OK and I try, I really do. My daughter is crying that picture day is ruined. I tell her she looks great, her hair is spectacular. I apologize for cursing. She keeps circling back to the hand sanitizer like her life won’t be complete if she doesn’t have it. I tell her I’ll work on it when we get to a light.
I tell her she can hit reset on her day. Picture day doesn’t have to be ruined it can just be a bad 10 minutes, that’s all. We can do better, starting….now. She stops crying and tells me she couldn’t find her uniform in the dryer and I tell her it was in there. She insists it wasn’t. She laments about what she will do. I reminded her she has three options – use the one at school, sure it’s a little stinky but it is an option, this is why we have 2 sets. Borrow a friend’s who doesn’t have PE today or take the hit and lose points for not having a uniform. I will not bring the uniform to her school, she needs to learn consequences.
2 minutes from drop off, holy hell we might actually make the cut off. I didn’t get stopped at the light, it’s a minor miracle. My daughters hands are steady enough to attempt to fix the hand sanitizer so I hand it over. She fixes it but is annoyed that the cord is broken. I tell her to use the side pocket. And remind her that she has 32 other sanitizers at home…..an inconvenience is all it is.
She mentions she can’t find her phone. I say it’s OK. You know when and where I will pick you up. She’s not happy about this. I remind my kids about the book – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – we must have read that a hundred times. My son chimes in from the back, reminds me that we watched the movie. I honestly, don’t remember he starts to bring up a kangaroo scene and I feel like we are getting back on track, just a little. As usual I am leaning on humor to gloss over the dysfunction of my parenting. I know it’s a silly band aid but I need something to slow the flow.
By some miracle of the traffic gods we get to drop off on time. I remind my kids that I love them and say the same thing I do every day – “be nice to everybody but take crap from no one”. And they exit the car and my daughter gives me a death stare that screams “hypocrite” and she’s not all wrong. When she gets home later we will discuss this when we are both calm and we will both suggest ways to avoid this morning’s horror show.
For the record, the PE uniform was in the dryer and her phone was at the bottom of the garage steps. So at least we know where everything is – we’ll do better tomorrow. I hope we’ll do better tomorrow.