Sunday, May 11, 2014

The morning routine

For almost four years, the girls were allowed to sleep in until they woke up on their own. Elizabeth would take full advantage and sleep from 8pm to 9 or 10 am. She takes her sleep seriously. Anne is half-robot and only the weak human side requires sleep so she is typically up for the day around 6 (after being up most of the night too). Living a life where you don't set an alarm is an underestimated luxury that I'm fully appreciating now that I'm back to work. I dread mornings now.
Either I have to be up and out the door way too early so that I can pick the girls up from school at dismissal time or I get to stay in bed longer, but then struggle with the kids to get out the door.

I finally had it all down to a science just as the kids had off for spring break. Now we're back to square one. Mornings can go one of two ways. The rare (and most preferable) way is that Elizabeth wakes up first, completely on her own. My Little Ray of Sunshine walks into my room and hugs me tight, "Good morning, Mamma. Will you make me breakfast?" We hold hands as we walk down the stairs and chat about our dreams over dinosaur egg oatmeal. When it's time to wake up Anne, she is slow to wake up and cooperative. Elizabeth likes to play mommy to her sister so she helps me get Anne's breakfast on the table and then we all get dressed and out the door. It's peaceful and wonderful and shows up as frequently as a unicorn.

The more common scenario is that I wake up to my little Hurricane bellowing from her room, "MOMMY!!!! IS IT MORNING TIME?!?! MOMMY!!!" She's all smiles and sparkly eyes as she bounds down the stairs, dragging me along behind her. Anne bounces around like a monkey. Occasionally, she'll pause from her ping-pong bouncing to pull down her pants and wave her bare bottom in my direction, "I"M SHOWING YOU MY BOTTOM!!!!!!! It's FUNNY!!!!!!!" (I have no idea where this came from). Anne laughs and chats as we enjoy a very loud and joke-filled breakfast before we wake up Elizabeth. The problem is that by then Anne is totally fueled and ready for mischief and Elizabeth is sleepy and waking up. Elizabeth-baiting is one of Anne's favorite games. She's kind of an easy mark. When I wake Elizabeth up, it typically takes her a good 10-15 minutes to really be ready to get out of bed. Inevitably, Anne finds her way into the room and just starts pushing buttons. That sets the tone for the next 30 minutes, which happens to also be crunch time. Anne tries to bug her sister. Elizabeth whines and cries. And repeat. Elizabeth refuses to eat breakfast in the same room that Anne is in, which Anne finds to be a delightful game. Elizabeth carries her cereal from room to room, looking for solitude and Anne follows Elizabeth from room to room, just being a pain. She's amazingly clever at it. She'll wait until our very particular Elizabeth has finally situated herself just right and then Anne will step just in the threshold of the room, drop trou, and say, "GOOD MORNING, ELIZABETH! I"M SHOWING YOU MY BOTTOM!!!!!!!!!!" The twinkle in her eye confirms that she knows EXACTLY what she's doing. Elizabeth will let out a cry of, 'THAT’S DISGUSTING, ANNE!" and sob as she sulks to the next room. AND REPEAT.

Between getting myself dressed, getting them fed, packing their lunch, making sure they have their outdoor clothes for school, the last thing I have time to effectively do is referee and follow-through with disciplines. A few weeks ago, I was completely fed-up. As I put the girls into the car I decided to get Anne where it hurt.
Me: Anne, today when you come home from school Elizabeth is permitted to play the iPad for 30 minutes. You are allowed to play it for ZERO minutes.
Anne: ZERO MEANS NONE!!!!
Me: Perhaps if you remember to be kind tomorrow, you can also play with the iPad...TOMORROW."

It sounded like I took away Christmas, Easter and her birthday. The yelling and screaming. I was really thinking that this might actually work and require minimal effort on my part, until I came home from work that night. I started to talk to Anne about her punishment, what happened today and what she could do tomorrow to earn her own iPad time. Elizabeth peeped in, "Oh I let Anne play the iPad during my time. I don't like her to be sad." Well, kid. I tried. Now you're on your own. Hope you enjoy eating your cereal in the locked bathroom every morning because I am officially out of this morning melee.

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