Sandra Tsing Loh talks about her struggles to get her daughter out of bed every morning.
It’s BAD enough that, at age 50, I have trouble getting it together in the morning. What’s worse is that I have a 10 year old who has trouble with mornings. It’s not that she has trouble. No, my daughter has made procrastination an art.
I blame myself. For a decade, I have been a textbook bad parent. Take getting the baby to sleep. Smart and effective parents feed their babies, place them in their cribs, and when they cry the parents wisely leave them alone whereupon they magically learn to comfort themselves and sleep through the night and grow up into confident adults with high IQ scores and lowered obesity rates and I forget what else.
Other parents rush in at the first peep, pick the babies up, cajole them, stimulate them, confuse them. These parents get trapped into bedtime rituals of jingling car keys, driving the babies around the block to get them to sleep, even duct-taping the baby in a car seat to the top of the vibrating dryer. They create dependence on bedtime stories so long and complicated even the parents cannot stay awake telling them. These are the illogical yarns kids love about a midget and a ballerina and baby squirrel with 10 different names, having hellacious tea parties with tiny food on tiny plates with tiny—if magical—forks. Forks that sing.
I know this because I have done all of these things.
So 10 years later, this is our awful morning routine.
At 6:20 a.m. I come into Suzy’s bedroom with the first warning—I snap on not the overhead light, which is too harsh, but a distant glowing desk lamp. Breakfast is brought in at 6:40, at which point, if the body is not yet upright and if no clothes are yet on, I begin a worried alpha-dog-at-the-sheep-herd-nipping. The goal is to be brushing teeth by 7:03 to be IN the car by 7:08-- And that means a moving car with a fully-dressed child in it, I do not get points for being alone in the car, nor do I get points for having a child in the car screaming because her other shoe is still in the house.
But typically what happens is at 6:20 there is no movement, at 6:40 there is rushing, and then at 7:02 there is an inexplicable…slowing…down. I have seen toilet paper being methodically folded like origami, in four to eight to sixteen sections. I have seen suddenly elaborate dental care, where the floss saws back and forth slower and slower, almost as in a dreamlike meditation.
So we scream up late to the bus stop, every other time. But one day, even this loser parent figures it out!
Next week: The Clocks—and Tables—Turn.