Monday surprises

At 6:45am, I was standing at my dresser and Fenner called down the hall, “Bye mom! I’m taking the bus!” “Oh! Ok, honey!” I called back, trying not to sound too surprised. So it appears that even though they all know the official week of Do nothing/Say nothing is over, they can’t ignore their new-found independence any more than we can. Everyone had experienced a basic shift that was here to stay.

Now, I don’t want to make it sound like I’m never tempted to slip back into my old ways. I am…every day. It’s familiar and strangely comfortable there. I know exactly how to do my old self, and it’s easy to slip. But awareness brings me back and I forgive myself right away and start again.

“Daaaad, daaaaad!” said Ellen as she came into our bedroom at 6:55. “Yes?” “Well, myself is urging myself to take the bus with Fenner, but myself doesn’t want to.” “Hmm.” he said. “Myself doesn’t want to take the bus but what is myself going to do about Charlotte?” I chimed in, “Well, it turns out I set up her alarm clock for her and it should be about to…..” Just then we hear one beep of Charlotte’s alarm clock, and then silence. “That was it, but she must have turned it off already!” Ellen ran into her room and then we heard Charlotte’s voice. Success! (Later she said to me, “Mom, I really like having my alarm clock.”)

Charlotte got out of bed, but then went into whine mode when she couldn’t find any of her favorite clothes to wear. “Mooooom!!” she said, close to tears, “What happens if I don’t go to school?!” “Um, no TV and no computer for the whole day.” He shoulders slumped and she plodded over to her dresser. Ellen did her best to help her, knowing that if she can help Charlotte to be on time with her, then they can all earn the right to stay up later at the end of the week. I reminded Charlotte that I hadn’t been picking up her room as usual, and she would probably find most of her favorite clothes scattered on the floor. Then I went downstairs and she got herself dressed. The next challenge was Charlotte discovering that the pantry was getting low and did not leave very many choices for her lunch. I started helping and then had to stop myself from doing too much. I put on my coat and said, “I’ll be in the car!” Ellen replied a cheerful, “Ok!”

I could hear Ellen offering Charlotte as much help as she possibly could and within minutes they both came out of the house and hopped in the car. Seat belts, click, click, and “Ready!” And we were off–right on time.

As we pulled into school and stopped the car I heard Ellen say, “Oh, bleh.” “What’s up?” “I forgot something.” I glanced around the car. “Your backpack.” “Yeah.” And at that moment I noticed a remarkable change in myself. In the past I would’ve blamed myself for not making sure Ellen had her backpack. I would’ve felt instantly guilty and translated that guilt into crabbiness toward Ellen with a dash of what will people think? thrown in. But now all I had was pure empathy. “Oh, Ellen. I’m so sorry….Here, take these goldfish someone left in the car …” She did and walked into school willingly but without the usual spring in her step.

Then Charlotte looked at me and smiled, “Well, I do have my backpack, yay me! Bye mom!” And then instead of clenched teeth and sour guilt, I started off to work with a big grin.

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