The morning school run: this short time period can evoke some powerful emotions. On some occasions, my boys notice details about the world around them, which leads to some interesting or unexpected questions and some quality mother/son time. On other occasions, it can be one of the most stressful points in the day. Which one of these we experience largely depends on if something dramatic happens just as we are leaving the house.
For a while, youngest has been very keen to use his scooter. Every time the garage opens, he fetches it. When his brothers are scooting he’s not just keen, he’s insistent! (but still a long way off keeping up with them). Being only 2, he can’t understand why his brothers have the opportunity to use their scooters to go to school when he has to go in the pushchair. This results in a tantrum. The type of tantrum that begins with an arched back and flailing legs, before moving onto the folding arms (twice for good measure) then finally the bottom lip comes out. Sometimes there is even a cute little foot stamp to accompany it. So, after a few weeks of scooter practise, I made the mistake of trying to not only prempt but avoid the tantrum, saying that he could try scooting too one day.
The morning came. All three boys had been informed that we would need to leave the house by 8 to make this happen. I gave them an hour’s notice. It was always going to take them three times as many requests to get dressed, find their school bags and put their shoes on than normal, followed by twice as long to complete each request – with half the usual amount of independence applied. Eldest son insisted on socks being arranged a specific way and middle son rejected the first pair of socks I located in favour of another, near identical pair. It even took a significant amount of coaxing to get them down for breakfast when usually they are attracted to a bowl of cereal like a shark is to blood. Despite everything, I didn’t want to go back on my word and got the scooters ready.
We hadn’t quite met our 8 o clock target, yet we were still an elusive pair of gloves short of being ready. They weren’t in the usual places and we didn’t have time to search for them, particularly as there was a toddler with his own set of wheels loose on the driveway! But to middle son the gloves were essential for human survival. When a car alarm sounds no one actually panics. Everyone just stares in disapproval. Walking up the road with a howling child is similar. I felt like I should be supporting the youngest with his first solo trip up the hill but in reality, here I was having to hold the hand of his older brother. Meanwhile eldest son did his usual disappearing act. The one where you assist removing a scooter wheel from the mud it is stuck in, look up and he’s not there. I know he’d never cross a busy road and he always comes back, but panic still begins in set in. You question every little decision you made that led you here and soldier on.
Being against the clock doesn’t help. We were passed by so many families heading for the same school. One by one they disappeared into the distance as a little reminder that there was just a 10 minute window for school arrival. When the last friendly face in sight reached us, I admitted defeat and asked for help. My junior aged child was able to resume a sensible pace with his classmates parents and I’d just bought myself 15 minutes (as the infant school starts later). Things improved. There was time to stop for extra hugs. A chance for mummy to think straight and I was no longer outnumbered, arms to children – all moving at disproportionate speeds. Everything was right with the world again. Until the way home when youngest son decided that as no one else was scootering any more, he’d like to be carried. We successfully took an hour and a quarter to complete a 15 minute walk. Next time I’ll just take the tantrum.