I realized for the first time the other day that I might have a little problem with control. I always knew I was rather particular- I haven’t let my husband make a bed in eight years because he can’t get the bottom sheet flat enough. Some might even say I’m a little bossy: a nag perhaps, or marginally anal-retentive. I’ve often joked that I’m only a couple hand-washings away from full-blown OCD, but a control freak? Me?
I came to this mind-blowing epiphany yesterday morning as I pulled into my son’s preschool parking lot behind my husband’s car, which actually contained the preschooler. Why, you might ask, was I caravanning to school at 8:20am with a cranky toddler in the backseat when I didn’t have to? Because apparently I have trouble delegating.
Just in case you are tempted to comfort me or enable my control addiction, let me assure you that I am clearly not acting rationally when it comes to school drop-off duty assignments. To be clear, let me walk you through a typical morning routine. Please note that there are no medieval torture devices, electric shock chairs, packs of rabid dogs, or even an excess of cooties anywhere on school grounds. I’ve checked.
We arrive at school around 8:30am after a mercifully short eight minute drive listening to the four-year-old insist adamantly and incessantly that he is too tired to go to school that day. Why do you think he now rides with Daddy? Once out of the car, my extremely active and athletic child walks drunkenly on noodle-legs at a snail’s pace toward the door that I know will lock automatically in exactly ten minutes. Given that it is approximately 100 yards away, we usually make it just under the wire.
The toddler skips happily through the door as I half drag, half carry his older brother toward his classroom. Upon arrival, the children are expected to change into their “indoor shoes”, use the bathroom, wash their hands, answer the “question of the day”, and then select an activity to play until class starts at 9:00am.
We rarely make it through the doorway on our first attempt. It’s like the threshold is guarded by an invisible sleep-ray that only affects my child. As soon as he steps into the room, he falls to the floor insisting that he’s too tired and needs to sleep. Right there.
Once the children start bottlenecking behind us I pull him to his feet and direct him to his shoes. After several failed attempts to convince me that his hands have suddenly gone numb, knocking baskets off shelves, and putting his shoes on the wrong feet, he finally slips on his Crocs and resumes sleeping on the floor. I ask him if he needs to use the toilet, but he pretends to be deep asleep at my feet while the other children step over him awkwardly with their short legs.
By now my blood pressure is starting to rise. He’s in the way, I’m in the way, and why the Hell is it a thousand degrees in this classroom?
So I start threatening: “Get up right now and at least wash your hands or else (insert desperate attempt to regain the upper hand here). This usually gets him to stand up slowly and uncoordinatedly, like a zombie rising unwillingly from the dead, and stumble toward the sink. Unfortunately, he does so with his eyes closed and by the time he reaches the sink he’s tripped twice, knocked over a puzzle, and bumped into several classmates.
At this point I lose my grip completely and trade jobs with my husband who is attempting to pull the toddler off the bookshelf he’s currently scaling.
Somehow my husband coerces our stubborn sleepwalker to wash his hands and move in an almost orderly fashion toward the poster board containing the question he is supposed to answer for the day. I find myself gritting my teeth unintentionally as I watch him pretend to start writing his name and then at the last minute scribble all over the paper. In the five seconds it takes for me to regain my composure the toddler has climbed up the back of a chair, tipped it over, and smacked his head on a bookshelf. Of course, this the teacher sees and offers me an icepack.
Beaten and discouraged, I carry my screaming one-year-old to the hallway to wait for my husband to emerge a few minutes later.
“How was he?” I ask, expecting the answer to be laying on the floor sleeping, obviously.
I’m not sure whether I’m annoyed or impressed when he responds “He’s good. I left him at a table happily drawing the solar system.”
How did he do that?
Are we talking about the same child who, not five minutes ago, had the hands of a stroke victim?
Is he some kind of wizard?
The point at which the toddler gleefully dives from his tear-stained perch on my shoulder to Daddy’s arms, I swear to myself that I’m not having another morning like this one. Ever. There must be a better way.
Of course, there is: let Daddy do drop off from now on. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? I mean, it couldn’t be worse than the day before.
What am I so afraid will happen if I don’t go? Yeah, I don’t know either. That’s the problem.
Despite the fact that I’ve agreed in principle to let my husband handle drop-off, I’ve invented an excuse to tag along every morning for two weeks.
Why? Because apparently I am a control freak.
But don’t worry: I’ve totally got it under control, and I’ll take care of it myself.