Walkin’ the walk

The next day was clearly test-it-out day for Charlotte. Was mom serious? Is this real? And thank goodness I was ready – fully committed to the follow-through. Really hoping it wouldn’t come to that, but still fully committed.

I went about my usual business and things seemed fine except I did notice the sound of some extra bickering between Fenner and Charlotte. No big deal and completely ignored by me.

7:35am – put dogs in the crate, grab my coat and gloves, navigate through the usual flurry of activity in the mudroom and head out the door with Fenner and Ellen at my heels. As Ellen closed the door behind her, I heard Charlotte exclaim, “Wait! I need my socks!”

We got in the car and I cranked the engine. The car’s clock displayed “7:39.” I backed out of the garage and turned around. No sign of Charlotte. Through the glass on the front door I could see her in the mudroom frantically looking for her socks. I looked back at the car clock just as it changed to “7:40.” “That’s it!” said Ellen, “Time to go!” I hesitated one second longer hoping to see Charlotte burst out into the driveway. Nothing.

It took all my willpower to put the car in drive, and step on that accelerator. How awful to be left behind! In my mind’s eye I could see her little sad face looking out the window at the car driving away and disappearing down the road. She’s probably sobbing by now I thought as we headed down the hill to town.

But the alternative was so much worse: to cave in, to go back on my word, to lose trust with all of them, to treat Charlotte like she can’t handle it. No way José.

Behind me, Fenner and Ellen were processing too: “Oh, man, she’s gonna be so mad … Well if she hadn’t wasted so much time bugging me this morning it wouldn’t-a happened! …  She’s gonna be so late…” I could hear the relief and satisfaction in their voices that I had stuck to the plan no matter what, but they were also worried about Charlotte in a very sweet way. I reassured them (and myself), “She’ll be fine. I’ll go right back to get her after I drop you off.”

It’s a 12 minute drive to school, plus drop off time, so Charlotte had almost half-an-hour by herself at home. I pulled up to the house, turned off the engine, and waited. Her backpack was sitting outside on the deck. I saw her look up at me through the window and she came outside. She wasn’t crying (phew). She looked a little sad, but mostly calm. She put her backpack on, looked at me, and walked the other way into the yard. Interesting, I thought. Then just as I was considering going inside to do a few things while I waited, she back-tracked toward the car.

She got in without a word. “Okay, here we go,” I said pleasantly as I turned on the engine. “Moooom,” she moaned. “Yes?” I turned to look at her. Her eyes teared up and she said, “I just needed my socks! I have that boo-boo and I can’t wear my boots without socks!” “Oh, yeah, if I had that blister I would need my socks too. Ouch,” I said with total empathy. “Yeah!…” she said. I waited to hear more. “I don’t like this … I don’t like being left behind!” I waited again and when she stayed quiet I said, “Charlotte, this is a big change for you — to get ready for school without Ellen telling you what to do. And you were on time three days in a row — Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday you were right there!” She didn’t smile, but I could see her body relax a little. We started up the driveway.

“Am I late?” she asked as we pulled up to school. “Yes. You’re about 20 minutes late.” She opened the door. “Bye mom,” she said and walked calmly into school.

That was last week. Every day since then she’s been in her seat and ready before I even start the car.

Explore posts in the same categories: Weeks following: Contributions

2 Comments on “Walkin’ the walk”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    “But the alternative was so much worse: to cave in, to go back on my word, to lose trust with all of them, to treat Charlotte like she can’t handle it. No way José.”

    Let’s have these words ringing in the ears of families across America and beyond!! You are amazing and so are your girls!!

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