Thursday, October 05, 2006

Spiderman Shoes Be Gone!

Thanks for all the comments on the last Spiderman Shoes post. I'll just keep reporting on my crazy parenting ideas and you can keep your own running tally of my children's future therapy bills.

In the spirit of "choosing your battles" I chucked the Spiderman shoes altogether. Walking to school in socks, making Moses wear his crocks instead...nothing was helping. Everytime we left the house I was mad because of Mo's shoes. Phoebe and Ollie would be out on the porch or in the van, I'd have my keys out, purse on the shoulder, one foot out the door and there Moses would sit--shoes in hand with tangled laces--nowhere near ready. I went to K-Mart last night and bought some $9.99 velco sneakers.

I told Moses I had the solution to our problem as I grabbed his old shoes and tossed them way into the back of the closet. He looked at me confusedly. Then I presented the generic white, yellow and blue velcros. His face lit up. He knew immediately what it all meant. A smile crept across his face and he said, "Great idea, Mom." I love that kid.

Kindergarten is really hard. When Phoebe was in Kindergarten, I thought it was her....or me...or something about our relationship. Things just went awry. I remember thinking, "I have to live with this child for 13 more years. We're going to kill each other." It made me frustrated and it made me sad. And then poo hit the fan with the shoplifting debacle--good land--I didn't know what to think then. But, summer came and whatever phase that was ended and all was well. She's a gem.

Now Mo is in Kindergarten and we're facing a lot of the same problems. Poor, Phoebe! It wasn't her! It wasn't me! We don't have a crazy dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship! It's just being five. It's just Kindergarten.

All of a sudden these kids are shoved out of the nest. They're eating lunch without direct supervision. They're out of the house all day. They're brains are bursting with letters and numbers and how to play nicely on the playground and how to line up when the whistle blows and going to the bathroom without Mom in case some emabarrassing situation arises and being in charge of carrying important papers home get the picture. It's a lot of new independence and a lot of new responsibility.

So, I chose NOT to deal with the Spiderman shoes anymore by taking them completely out of the equation, but I did take on another battle: the cleaning out of the lunch box.

The deal is when Pheobe and Mo get home, they are to: 1) take their folders out of their backpacks and give me their papers and 2) take their lunch boxes into the kitchen and clean them out. I don't mean rinse them or scrub them, but take out the reusable sandwich box and drink container, take out the spoon and put them in the sink. This is important so that I can throw them in the dishwasher with the dinner plates and have them clean for lunch the next day. Otherwise I am giving containers half-full of fermented orange juice a quick rinse and refilling them--or dealing with salami that's been at room temp for 24 hours--yuck. I'm just not having it. I also don't like the morning rush-around (I think I've mentioned this). I like to have clean lunch boxes and food containers waiting on the counter for me to fill them in the morning.

But guess what! Moses does not empty his lunch box out....not without being asked (read: nagged) repeatedly. Usually, I just go do it myself. This is one of those things (just like the shoes) that is not a big deal. It is a small deal, really. It's a lunch box, for Pete's sake. But, multiply that small frustration by every morning of every school day stretching into the future every year that he brings his lunch. So, I figure let's grab the bull by the horns, learn the lesson and have a pleasant morning together before school.

This morning I was prepared for a meltdown.

Wednesday morning I got his lunch box out of his backpack from the day before and cleaned everything out only to fill it right back up again. And it made me mad. And it made me want to nag him and lecture him and repeat for the millionth time why he needs to clean his backpack out. Then I caught myself and realized that it would make more of an impact if something actually HAPPENED if he didn't clean it out....because I like to enjoy my time with those kiddos.

So I told him that I could no longer clean the lunch box out for him in the morning, or the evening for that matter. This was his job. It was his lunch. And if his lunch box didn't get cleaned out I guess he couldn't take it to school. I guess he'd have to get hot lunch.

That sounded fine to him.

Then I asked him if he had $2 to buy hot lunch.

He did not have $2. I asked him how much he would get on Saturday for allowance. He said $2. What a lucky coincidence! I said, "Hmmmm...I guess you'll have to pay for your hot lunch with your allowance money if you don't clean out your lunch box." He said understood. He said he would try to remember.

When he got home yesterday I did everything but straight-out tell him to do it. I asked him if he'd done everything he needed to. I reminded him that I needed the papers from his folder--so he reaches into his backpack, PAST the lunch box, to get the folder. Before bed I asked if everyone had gotten all their jobs done. Everyone, Moses included, was sure they had.

I wouldn't say I felt nervous about all this, but I prepared myself for the worst. I imagined what kind of fit Moses might throw. I imagined how I would react to said fit.

Morning came. Phoebe set her alarm 10 minutes early so she'd have time to make her own lunch today. I sat back and had a second cup of coffee--what with no lunches to make, why not? I put $2 in an envelope and put Mo's name on it. I waited.

It wasn't until 7:55 when Moses was putting on his backpack to leave that he realized. He turned to me with wide panicky eyes and said, "OH NO! My lunchbox!" And I smiled and said, "I realized that this morning. Look, I already put Saturday's allowance money in an evelope to take to school."

No freak out. No meltdown. No nothing.

I'm sure that will come on Saturday when I, with a flourish--of course, hand out allowance to the other kids. That's when it will hit home. Hopefully. Hopefully he'll get it. With my luck, he'll just keep racking up a huge debt--be weeks in the hole. My little endentured servant--hot lunch comes from the company store, boy! God save us all. But when he gets fed up with me and decides to run away from home, at least I won't have to help him put his shoes on.

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