Another Cautionary Tale, this one with a side of mortification

Mornings are my own personal experiment with chaos theory.  I don't enjoy them.  They are, each of them, little vignettes of failure and regret.

It's not the hour.  I enjoy quiet, peaceful early morning hours.

It's not that I have to go to work; I love my job.

It's that I live with all these other people, who need to arrive at various educational institutions with bright shiny faces, full warm bellies and lunch boxes loaded with nutritious and tasty goodness.  It's that they need to be wearing school uniforms.  Clean ones.  It's that on any given day, a few of them have soccer practice, and a few of them have early release days or late start days, or a change in the carpool, or forms to hand in, or projects to bring with them, or picture effing day.  This one needs hotdog money and that one is clamoring about free dress and that one yonder has a stuffy nose and this one I just tripped over needs her rat's nest of a hairdo transformed into a proper little Catholic schoolgirl coif.

This morning, all of that reduced me to tears and silence.  The tears are commonplace.  The silence, however, freaked out the kids.  I don't usually find myself at a loss for words when it comes to giving lectures.   Come to think of it, the silence freaked me at as well.

So I resolved that tonight, before my five offsprings' heads drifted down to, crashed into, or haphazardly landed upon a pillow, they would produce for me every article of clothing they each required for the next day: school clothes, soccer clothes, sweatshirts, socks, underwear, shoes...the whole nine.

This is where the cautionary bit begins.

Let me be a lesson to you.  Do not assume that basic messages are penetrating your children's skulls.  Do not -- ever! -- be afraid to repeat something you think for sure they must know.  Go ahead: be that broken record.  Annoy them.  Let them roll their eyes.  Let them say "I KNOW mom."

Should you choose not to heed my advice, you could be one of the players in this little morality play:

* * *

Mom:  "I am starting a load of laundry in a few minutes: bring me what you need for tomorrow.  If you don't have clean underwear in your drawer, bring me some to wash."

Daughter: "It's OK, mom.  I'm wearing underwear."

Mom: "Right.  I mean clean underwear for tomorrow."

Daughter: No words.  Just a quizzical look.

Mom: "Very funny.  Yes, dear, you do wear clean underwear everyday."

Daughter: "WHAT???  Are you KIDDING ME?? That is NUTS!  I wear them for a week!"

At this point, a sound sort of like being enveloped by a wind tunnel drowns out any other sound.  At least for the mom.  Howling through the tunnel are phrases like: What the--  and How the hell--  and You are effing kidding me!! and Have I taught her NOTHING??? and What kind of mother--

We're talking shades of Mr. Kurtz here.  When the howling scream subsides, the mom, unable to even look at her beautiful child, sternly sends the daughter to the laundry room to get clean underwear.

The daughter, meanwhile, and without the vortex of horror clogging up the mom's ears, can be heard completely melting down, and complaining to anyone who will listen, or anyone forced to listen by virtue of proximity, that her very, very mean and not nice mother is making her find clean underwear.

The mom lies on her bed, wallowing in abject failure, and wondering where it all went so horribly wrong.

Another gem wafts up from the living room: "Dad!  She wants me to find clean underwear!  She's CRAZY!"

There were other, even more embarrassing gems.  This is enough.  This is too much.  This is my sad little tale, and you should redeem my utter failure by telling your kids the obvious, every chance you get.

* * *

My kids are in for the following extensive lectures this week:

Eat food.
Do homework.
Brush teeth.  All of them.  Really.  Twice a day.  Really.
Pee when you need to.  Also?  The same for poop.  Every time.
Broken Glass?  No bare foot dancin'.

* * *

There.  Now don't you feel better about your parenting?

* * *


T said…
I do feel better but only because I now know I'm not alone. I recently sent my youngest to camp for a week. I was thorough about packing and labeling everything she would need. Two days after she had been gone I walked into her bathroom and found her toothbrush and toothpaste. The last time I had seen it, it was in her bag yet here it was. One week won't set her back completely will it? Then it got even better. At pick up, among telling me her many stories, she mentions that she currently has no underwear on. My stare was long and finally I asked "why?" Her response, "you didn't pack any." I was quick to point out that in fact I had. I had even shown them to her when we went through what I was sending with her. "Well I couldn't find them." She never took the time to dig to the bottom of her bag. She just made due with the one pair she wore and her swim bottoms. I'm so perplexed by her. Why?? Why would she not take everything out? What did I fail to teach her? Lesson learned. I too am trying to get across the simple things. We will laugh about this later when they are wonderful and productive members of society.
Kerri said…
aww, youth...things are simple to them. Chin up, momma, we've all been there! I do the uniform checks on Sunday night..they are on their own for the rest of the week and more times than not, sharing out the clean soccer gear to those friends who are less than organized. Sigh.
Laurel said…
I noticed how there was far fewer underwear for my oldest daughter than my youngest each week in the laundry. I asked her, "Why are there only two underwear in here when I haven't done laundry for over a week?" She looked at me perplexed. "Do you change your underwear everyday?" -- "No, just on bath nights!!" - So apparently underwear changing is not an inborn capability. I now frequently ask her. "Do you have fresh underwear on?"
Thanks Laurel! So glad I'm not the only one...

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