I’d love to pretend that parenting “ain’t no thang”, but then I’d have no excuse for the deepening forehead fissure between my eyebrows that I manually pull and tighten in my rearview mirror. Sunlight acts as a spotlight on my facial fjord for the post-Botox judgement I may have passed in my twenties, I know it. Damn you, karma.
Nah. When I look past my reflection to the three cherubs hurling Goldfish and insults at each other, I know it’s not karma. I know that the growing gorge in the middle of my face is a result of intense furrowing that comes from trying to get children out of the house and into the car for any reason other than an ice cream run. Okay, even an ice cream run doesn’t go off without a hitch…or seventeen.
Parenting would be a snap and my forehead much smoother if we never had to get anywhere on time. Thankfully, with three children and another brewing, I’m practically an expert.
Getting Out of the House with Kids in 327 Simple Steps:
- The night before you have to arrive at the party, school, social event, meeting, appointment, whatever, announce: “It’s time to get in the car!” A seventeen hour cushion should be just enough to get you where you need to be a mere 15 minutes late.
- Find the missing shoe. It’s where it could never possibly be like on top of the refrigerator.
- Fix the rogue thread in the sock that has turned your normally pleasant child into a raving lunatic.
- But first have her separate her legs into two separate pant legs. I know. She hadn’t even noticed that she was completely unable to move her legs. And then the thread.
- Find the other shoe because it’s gone again.
- Never mind that the socks don’t match and that the heel is bubbling over the back of the shoe.
- Pants? Check. Shoes? Check? Cue bathroom blowout.
- Try a new outfit…for both of you.
- Pack snacks.
- Rifle through the BPA-free containers for the matching lids. Screw it. Use Ziploc bags.
- Fill the water bottles. Where is the valve?
- Peel older children from the couch or their beds.
- Remind everyone to use the bathroom.
- Discuss: “But I just went!” “Try again.” “I don’t have to go!” “Just try.” “I can’t.” “Ok, but we don’t have time to stop.” “Oh-KAY.”
- Grab the entertainment bag, the book bag, the diaper bag.
- Say, “Okay, let’s go!” or “Hurry!” or “We’re going to be late!”
- Look at the kids for the first time. Wipe faces. Don’t ask them where they got the chocolate. There isn’t time.
- Catch a whiff of morning breath. Make everyone brush teeth…even you because you can’t be sure where it came from.
- Wipe faces.
- Wrangle everyone into coats or sweatshirts and take an inordinate amount of time to untangle arms and zip zippers.
- Say, “We have to go!”
- Hand out bags.
- Remember your children have hair. Brush it and think: “I know I’ve seen a hair band somewhere.”
- Attempt an out-of-body experience when your children scream while you brush through the tangles and smooth out the cowlicks they inherited from your spouse, the one you kind of hate right now.
- Check noses.
- Open the door.
- Load everyone into the car while you mentally check your imaginary list.
- Loosen the car seat straps because there are sweatshirts now.
- Insert key in ignition.
- Try not to scream when someone needs to go to the bathroom.
Repeat any and all steps ad nauseum until you can pull out of the driveway. And then exit your street directly into the stopped traffic you would have missed had you left three minutes earlier.
Sure, you could prepare the night before and condition your children to respond like Pavlovian dogs, but let’s get real.