I had a solo morning, which means all four kids have to be out of the house by 7:40, with all their gear, lunches and etcetera, etcetera, which today included nordic ski gear for Sam and I…and it happened, on time and with relative calm. For reasons I can’t explain, Rory was the issue this morning. I told them to get boots and coats on, handed Rory her boots, as she was dithering, then went to start loading the car. The lock on the ski box stuck, so it took me a few minutes, during which Lily appeared with everything well in hand (which was kind of a surprise, as she’d been complaining). I went back inside to find Wyatt struggling with his zipper–fair enough–and Rory standing there, completely uncoated and unbooted. That’s actually unusual for her, but I didn’t have time to sort it out. Instead, she got shoveled into the car, coatless and bootless. Wyatt got a zip but had to go in without his boots, and we were off, making Sam’s school with time to spare, but with Rory wailing the whole way.
Once Sam was stowed, I parked, helped the little ones with their boots and let Rory use her coat as a blanket, but until then, I let them shiver a (very) little. (warm car, five minute drive max), and I said, repeatedly (I’m pretty sure this is why Rory was wailing) that they’d had plenty of time to put their stuff on (which was true) and they’d chosen not to, and that they did not get to choose to make Sam late for school. Ah, guilt…
But it did make me wonder what the consequence should be for the child who stubbornly refuses to put on his or her gear and get out to the car. That wasn’t quite the situation this morning, but it has been, and no doubt will be again, and I don’t like to hold up two or three other kids to favor the recalcitrant or the laggard–it puts all the wrong incentives into place. When I say coat and boots, I mean coat and boots, and I need them to know that. Could I send them to school with no coat and boots? I asked, and the school said no. I’m not really surprised–I think they’d have to leave a teacher off the playground, and they probably don’t want to suggest to the other kids that not going outside is an option. So I get that. But I need something more, I think, than guilt and a chilly car ride. ( already have an incentive going (that would be the vitamins, always and only given in the car), but I do like to have a threat as well.
Most of my working time today went into a blog post– (The Least Important Million-Dollar Question ABout Childhood Vaccinations)–which wasn’t at all the way I’d planned to spend it. I’d alloted X time for blogging, X time for a pitch I was working on, and X time for book and other work…but the blog post turned out to be, shall we say, TripleX.