Monday, January 26, 2009

parenting, a trial by fire

So, during today's morning drop off I was thinking about parenting stuff. Namely, about WHO is the expert on what is best for a child? (the PARENTS, right??)

I was really tempted to call Brian to talk about this, since he and I always used to have nice parenting chats and we have very similar parenting styles. Actually, that's something I miss about him, and I don't expect to find in common with everyone I go out with from here on out. But anyways... I didn't call him. Of course not. I just kept my thoughts to myself, and drove to work in a sort of mundane way.

So, we have this issue. None of you who know me personally will be surprised...

Core gets to school a little late a lot of the time. The reasons are varied and plenty: I didn't feel it was worth fighting about, homework needed finishing, we couldn't find somebody's shoes/coat/backpack, they were really hungry and wanted 2nds on breakfast, they were really tired and I let them sleep in a bit, we all overslept accidentally, etc etc etc.

Basically, it's poor planning on my part, but I swear, even on the days when I get up a half hour before I have to get them up, even when I made breakfast the night before (I believe in a good breakfast), even when we lay clothes out the night before... something comes up, or we make it out the door at exactly the time she is supposed to BE THERE. We only live 10 minutes from her school, so it's not awful, but it's not looking so good to the office staff.

I'm trying to stay calm and just keep on reminding her that moving faster is better regarding getting ready for school, but she really takes after me; I like to do things when I'm ready to.

And I know the moms working at the school think it is just berserk that I don't naturally wake up at 6 am (my babies were always sleepers, therefore I never had to get "used" to getting up at dawn), that I don't have an efficient method devised for doing this all, and that some days I don't have to hurry off to SPC and I want to spend that extra time with them.

Harry, on the other hand, manages to get them to school on time, from the way he tells it, because he's usually at work before then anyways. And he reprimands me by saying that all of these tardies are "going to bring DCF and the Clearwater Police Dept down on us" (by which he means me).

Now, I'm not saying that tardies are GOOD; no, of course not. My mom never taught me to manage my time and as soon as I could be told it was my own responsibility to get ready and leave on time, I realized I had no clue. Something had gone terribly wrong in the raising of me.

I want my kids to learn to find their shoes, I want them to know how to read a clock (Cora's awesome with digital ones, at least), and to know why we put things away when we are done with them. Just because I don't possess a certain skill (yet) doesn't mean that they don't have a chance at developing it.

But the pinnacle of my rant comes to this: the school is providing a service. Harry and I have paid in (as have many of you who don't have kids- sorry!), and decided that we WOULD accept the service they provide, for the time being. I'm still the boss of my kids, and it totally irks me to no end when the school officials try and put me in my place.

So, why is it abuse if I (frequently) bring my well-cared for, well-mannered, empathic, agreeable, lovely 6 year old to school late?

That's what I'd like to know.


Anonymous said...

Whatever you decide, it needs to be consistent. Make sure you get Harry's buy-in, as he will need a strong united front.

I know that as a child, I had difficulty getting to school on time. My parents made me go to bed an hour early and wake up thirty minutes earlier for a week if I was late for school just one day. This was compounded for each day I was late, an extra hour and an extra week per each offense. A combination of going to sleep an hour earlier, waking up a half hour earlier, and of resenting both ensured that I did whatever I could in order to get to school on time.

It also helped that my father was up at dark thirty. His job in the morning was to wake us up. He had... creative ways of ensuring that we got up and stayed up. Once, in high school, I had a cup of ice water poured on my head. Heh.

Personally, I think that the carrot is better than the stick. I learned an interesting trick that got me through school, which you might be able to apply. Find a reward that is compounded for every minute they save in the morning. In high school, for instance, I used to wake up two hours early (e.g. when my father left for work), get a shower, put on my clothes, then take a nap until it was time to leave. The pre-school nap was my reward. If you can find a reward for your kids that they can only take advantage of once they are completely ready for school, this could work equally well. For instance, watching morning cartoons until it's time to leave or being able to play a special game that is only available in the mornings. This will give them the incentive to get ready early. Every minute they shave off of their morning routine will reward them with extra cartoon or game time.

If you make the reward only available if both are ready on time, then you will also ensure that both Cora and Connor help each other to get ready in the morning.

Cassandra said...

Mornings are hard for everyone even us who wake up at 5am and rush everyone around. Its not like you are a bad parent cause you bring in your child late, its just rude. Now understand it from an adult's view, if you were late to every class at SPC eventually one teacher would be mad enough to drop you. At USF I have a teacher who if you are not in class exactly at 2p you are asked to leave. Yes I am paying for that class, but its her time. Im interrupting her and the class by walking in late. The same goes for public schooling. As a volunteer I see it happen, the kid is late he has to go to the office get a slip, then walk to his class, only to put the back pack up, get into his seat, THEN the teacher has to restart what she was already teaching the other kids.Once in a while its ok, I mean life happens, but when I work in the office and its the same 15 kids ALWAYS late no matter what its considered a problem.
They wont contact DCF or the Clearwater police, they will send you a letter regarding the matter. Eventually the tardies count as absenses. Which in Kindergarten and 1st its not too much of a problem but if you were in 2nd or 3rd they can fail you for it.
Is it fair, well it depends which side you are on. If youare the parent Fuck no its not fair, if you are the teacher HELL yes it is.
You wouldnt be late to an important meeting, even when you are paying for the time, a lawyer is paid by the hour. But if you get there 40 minutes late you only have 20 minutes to get your point across before you are charged for a full hour of fees. School is payed for by taxes, but not only taxes, if that was the case then budget cuts would not effect them as drastically as they do now. Our Taxes pay for public services, it is distributed to each public service.I mean again we pay the fire dept to make sure we dont have houses burning, would it be fair for them to show up when they felt like it? Isnt school just as important?

Ok off my soapbox. I am constantly late to things that are not important. However, school, work, airplanes cruises, and the like I strive to be on time. I might be to a playgroup 20 minutes late but my boys are in their classroom by 8:30 so school can start on time at 8:40.

Gladis said...

Thanks for the insight, guys.

I will try some of the ideas you presented, and I'll let you know how it goes!