Managing the morning

School starts ... way too soon. And while Bella is a go-with-the-flow kind of kid, Javier needs a lot of coaxing. Actually, I often feel like I'm his trainer more than his mom as I coach him from one "station" to the next.

For instance, even though his clothes are laid out the night before, I have to repeat and urge him into them in the morning. Then there's breakfast, which is typically his biggest meal of the day because he eats it before his meds take effect, and which can last 30 minutes or more without me standing over him chanting, "Eat! Be quiet and eat!" After breakfast, it's the hair and teeth dance where I'm trying to get Bella dressed and Javi keeps appearing in the room with his tooth brush or squirt bottle in hand and I have to force him back to the bathroom to finish up. So what should take 30 minutes turns into an hour long affair.

When we started the day camp he's attending this week (and last), I decided to toss out any semblance of independence and just do what has to be done to get us out of the house in good spirits and without a morning full of stress. I wake him up and dress him before he even gets out of bed. When he gets to the kitchen, his breakfast and meds are waiting for him. I set a 10 minute timer so that he can gauge how fast he must eat (and how much he can talk). When the 10 minutes are up, we all go into the bathroom together to do hair and teeth. Magically, our routine now takes less than a half hour and no one wants to pull their hair out (um, so I don't want to pull my hair out).

But as much as this new routine makes for a less stressful morning, I feel as though we're regressing. This kid will be 9 years old in December. He needs to be able to get himself ready for his day. I feel like I've been fighting this battle for so long now that half of me wants to throw my hands up and the other half is tenaciously holding onto what headway I've made. Do I accept that my child needs his hand held or do I lay down the law with him so that he is compelled to do it himself?

I don't know the answer. I suppose I could discuss it with his pediatrician at our appointment next Monday, but I don't know if it's a question that a doc can answer. I know my kid. I know that what he can't do on his own is the same task he can easily accomplish when a timer's involved. I know that we can create a smooth morning routine if I do everything for him. Is it worth it? How old is too old to have your mom pulling your pants up?

What's worse is that I know my struggle with his mornings is nothing compared to his struggle with his mornings. Can you imagine being inside his head? The impulse to touch, talk, jump, push, grab, argue, debate, and kick overrules everything. How can he focus on completing his tasks when there's so much to hear and to say and to do? I imagine it's mass chaos in his head, like 15 people talking to you at once.

So I'm working on my patience this morning, and giving myself two weeks to figure it all out.


  • Ken and Meg

    Dang, are you sure you're not living at our house in the mornings?

  • Kelly

    I'm happy (and sad) that you can relate. Although, I hope you aren't still going through this when the boys are Javi's age!

  • Katie Jones

    Don't feel bad... when I taught fourth grade (9, 10, 11... heck, some 12-year-olds in the mix), I still had to snap many a pants snap (those things are so hard to do!), help button and belt kids after bathroom breaks, and I've practically never had a fourth grader who could snap overalls themselves. I also had kids come in with pajamas on because their parents finally drew the morning battle line in the sand! So, you're not alone out there.

  • Xanne

    My crazy cousin apparently requires her mother to hand her bottles while she takes a shower in a campground bathroom -- and she's 23 years old!!! Please don't let Javi get that bad.

    Hope you're doing well! I enjoy reading your blog!!!

  • Kelly

    Look, y'all. If you tell me I could be pulling up his pants every morning when he's 12 (or, WTF? 23!!?), I'm officially going to break out the Vicodin. ;)

    Hi Xanne! Don't y'all have a bathroom in the camper?

  • Robin

    Oy - hang in there! Atleast you try to see it from his point of view! BTW, love your new blog!

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