Just Call Me Angel of the Morning

Last fall I posted on our morning routine, and that routine has changed drastically since Daniel started daycare.  And since he turned 3.  There will be an entire post soon on the seemingly-overnight personality change he has had since he turned 3.  Here’s a glimpse into what mornings are like in our house lately.

My first alarm buzzes.  I hit snooze.  The second alarm goes off.  I hit snooze, but by then I’m no longer drowsy, so I snatch my iPhone and check email, check Twitter and then visit a few celebrity gossip sites.  You know, because my brain is fuzzy at 6am, and I try to ease it gently into that good morn.

I stumble to the bathroom, trying hard to come to terms with the fact that I am awake and must get up and get ready.  I peer into the mirror, so close that I could lick it because I am crazily impaired without glasses or contacts.  I sigh at the bags under my eyes and scrutinize my chin for any burly hairs that might have erupted overnight.  Because I am of a certain again at which springy black hairs gleefully erupt like weeds.  One of my earliest memories of my great-grandmother was watching her shave her face with an electric razor in the bathroom.  This little old lady in a house dress would purse her lips and push out her chin to ensure she achieved the closest shave possible.  Despite that memory, I don’t come from a line of sasquatches (except when it comes to height), but I do wonder if a Norelco is in my future.

Teeth brushed, face washed and makeup on, I hear the tell-tale signs that Daniel is awake: a little chatter, the ripping of the diaper as he flings it off and the thump of his feet as he runs to his potty.  Then I hear, “I go pee pee. Pee pee everywhere.” And then, “Mommy, come here.”  I drop what I’m doing and run down the hall, tripping over yowling cats indignant that they have not been fed and open his door.  I am greeted by a half-naked little elf grinning up at me as well as so.much.pee on the floor.  I scratch my head because his potty is in one corner of the room and has a goodly amount of pee in it (success!), but the huge puddle is in front of the door (fail!).  I’m going to need forensic splatter experts to help me figure out this one. He’s so excited to see me that he jumps up and down, slipping in the pee.  So I now have a half-naked little boy covered in urine – still smiling though.

I scoop him up, trying to ignore his uriney dampness and take him to our bedroom to wipe him off and get him dressed for daycare.  As I take off his sleep shirt, the only remaining article of his pajamas, he argues with me about wanting to keep it on (although he says “Leave it off” because he is mixing his words) because it is a Thomas shirt, and I try to convince him that the shirt is for sleeping (“cuddling” he corrects me) and not to wear in public.  The dressing battle won, we head for the kitchen and breakfast, and this is the point at which my child turns into Sibyl.

I have been called a morning person by my family for years, an accusation to which I, to echo the words of Demi Moore’s character in A Few Good Men, strenuously object. I can function in the morning, get up and do what I need to do, but I don’t have an especial love for mornings.  Daniel, on the other hand, usually wakes up happy and distressingly chipper before turning moody and whiny as I shepherd him through all that needs to be done to get us out the door at a decent time.   I’m not at my best in the mornings because there is a lot to do and my temper is often short and on edge.  Daniel pushes these buttons with masterful contrariness.  I offer him pancakes; he screams, “No!  Gra-lol-a bar!”  I put on his everyday shoes, but he whines for his water shoes because he wants water play, which is of course not that day! I made the mistake of putting his trains back on the train table the night before, not realizing he had placed them on the floor in a deeply meaningful arrangement.  He flips out, starts to cry and yell, “On the floor!” as I watch him dumbfoundedly.  At first I try to cajole, apologizing for my egregious error.  As the crying and yelling continue, I say “Ok, put them where you want them” but I’m thinking, “WTF? I don’t care! Put them where you want them.” Or maybe he wants to watch a movie or color, but we’ll be leaving in 5 minutes and my attempts to explain this to him rationally (my big mistake) are met with howls of outrage.

We finally are in the car and on our way.  I mention that it’s raining, and he disagrees emphatically, “it’s not raining.”  I have two choices.  I can continue insisting that it is, at which point he might lose it or I can reply with a simple “ok.”  I cowardly choose the latter.  I inquire about what he’s going to do at school and with whom he’s going to play, and he tells me decisively, “I not going to play with anyone.”  Ok. He begs to go get gas (?).  He begs to go to McDonald’s (??).  I defuse those bombs.  He announces that he wants to cuddle mommy, which is a tad bit impossible – not to mention unsafe- when I’m driving. When we pass the winery, I ask him what we do with grapes, and he replies happily, “Smush them!”  Apparently, I have a pint-size vintner on my hands.

We pull into the parking lot at daycare, but the battles are not over.  He begs to take a toy with him as I try to convince him the toy might get lost or broken and should stay in the car. Tears dried, Daniel insists on being carried in, and I acquiesce, feeling him cling tightly to my neck and suddenly regretting my short fuse and barked orders.  He’s still such a little boy.  We lumber to his class.  I put him down, put his lunch box on the table and hang up his bag in his cubby. He is standing right beside me and whispers, “Pick me up.”  I scoop him up, cuddle him, kiss him and remind him what a great, fun day he’s going to have.  I put him down, and we walk to the door so he can wave to me.  On the bad days, his little face crumples and the teacher picks him up to comfort him while I wave and blow a kiss before walking out, shoulders slumped.  On the better days, he smiles at me, waves enthusiastically and blows me a kiss before turning around and walking back to the other kids.  He doesn’t exactly look enthusiastic about it and my heart hurts a bit, but I am grateful for no tears and walk briskly to the exit.

Back in my car, I’m alone.  It’s quiet.  I turn on NPR or plug in my iPhone to listen to my “Ire” playlist (what?  you don’t have a playlist named after one of the seven deadly sins?) as I drive to work.  I’ll deal with other tantrums there, but for the next 20 minutes, it’s just me, my coffee and my thoughts.  And I’ll do it over again the next day.