Tanner. TanNER! TANNNNNNNNNNER! Are your shoes on yet?
I’m scraping cereal flakes clinging to the edge of the kitchen table and yollering (yelling/hollering) down the hall to our oldest. It’s only been 3,800,00 times I’ve asked him this question. This morning alone. In addition to the 48 mornings before.
Welcome to the Pogue Cottage. Our oldest is currently allergic to listening.
Yes, I know there are abundant distractions on the way to the shoe bin. Yes, I realize, it’s a lot we are asking right now. After getting dressed, making his bed, eating, and please brush your teeth for more than 5 seconds, it’s amazing he still has a childhood. But really, do we have to ask him to put his shoes on one.more.time?
Eyeing the clock, I buzz down the hall just in time to see his ever-famous “dead fish flop.” Parent friends, please tell me you know what I’m talking about, right? It’s a symptom of “allergic to listening-isms.” The moment I ask a question, his body goes limp, his mouth gapes open, his eyes roll back, and there he lays on his striped rug, as lifeless as a dead cod. It’s a tragedy. Truly.
Confession: It’s here I reach my breaking point. I’ve tried it all, and I mean ALL, and some of them are not my proudest parenting moments.
I’ve yelled. Through foamy teeth, Get up and put your shoes on. NOW! (Imagine finger pointed and crazy mommy hair in full force)
I’ve pleaded. For the love of all that’s good and holy, can you please focus? There’s one shoe. There’s the other. Good. Now puh-leeeeze put them on so we can get you to school by 2016.
I’ve threatened. I’ll take your Pokemon cards away. And your bed. And your soul. K, maybe not that last one.
I’ve affirmed. Thank you so much for wanting to be responsible this morning. I can tell you are so excited to get your shoes on. About that.
I’ve cried. Tanner, ( imagine sobs coming from yours truly) do you actually hear me speaking? Can you please acknowledge and take action? Do.you.hear.the.words…?
I’ve bargained. If you’ll put your shoes on the first time I ask, I’ll take you to
Legoland. The zoo. Froggie’s Bounce House. Your high school graduation. Yogurtland.
Not yet 8am, I’m already depleted and feeling like a parenting failure. Never mind that school starts in ten minutes, and I’m trying to get another son ready, while wrangling my curly, flustered fro, and attempting to make myself presentable to speak at MOPS, ahem, about rest. Rest, people. And when did a tornado blow through our kitchen? Bruiser needs fresh water again? No Ty, these are not my pajamas I’m wearing to work. For the love.
Starting off the mornings like this is seriously the worst. I’d much rather have perfectly obedient children who do everything before I ask them and color code their sock drawer. But I’m sorry, that’s just not real life. As much as Bryan and I plan and pray and model and discuss, our boys are humans. They are exerting their own little wills, and these days, being allergic to listening is at the top of their list.
Sure, we can threaten and scream and hover and micro-manage but we.are.over.it. He knows the drill. I refuse to be “that yolling mom” anymore. If it’s responsible and aware sons we are raising, part of our parenting process now includes letting them choose, biting our nails when they fail, and allowing them to learn with natural consequences, all the while encouraging them with a safe, unconditional space to talk and love love love them.
So if you see a darling boy walking to class barefoot, or arriving late because he chose to not listen, fear not. His parents love him. During every phase, they wondered if he’d sleep through the night, or potty train, or grow out of the terrible threes (oh, those three’s), or put his shoes on in time for school.
How overwhelming phases feel in the moment, and how laughable they are looking back on.
In a few years he’ll be allergic to something new, and we’ll survive. After all, it’s not about the shoes. It’s about a relationship.