There are many things we tell ourselves before we have kids.
“I won’t use TV as a babysitter!”
“I will not use food as a reward!”
“I’ll never let my children eat in the car!”
And, perhaps the most dangerous of all, “I will never be one of those parents who is always late everywhere!”
Full disclosure: I told myself all of these things in those blissful, naïve, pre-parenting days. And my kids may or may not be watching TV as I type this while they eat cookies for being good. (But hey, at least we’re not in the car!)
But the area of crashing and burning most consistently is in trying to be on time. The reason why boils down to one, tiny, little word: shoes. SHOES. The downfall of so many outings! The bane of the schedule! The Sisyphean quest that stands in the way of you and your pressing commitment!
For those without children, this may sound ridiculous. “What’s so hard about putting on shoes?” you ask. Excuse the frenzied, maniacal laughter as I recount a typical morning of getting shoes on with my 1-, 3-, and 5-year-olds. For purposes of this exercise (and for the sake of omitting 3,241 steps here), we can assume that we are all fed, dressed, packed, and otherwise ready to go and be on time.
So, here are the 50 steps of getting your kids’ shoes on (with questionable success) …
- Look at the clock. Ten minutes to get out the door. That is so much time.
- Announce, just to be safe, that it is time to get shoes on.
- Wait patiently for 30 seconds.
- Announce that it is, indeed, time to get shoes on.
- Listen to the grumbles of children as they head toward the back door to get their shoes on.
- Pick up baby in anticipation of heading out the door.
- Despite clearly designated boxes for containing each child’s shoes, learn that both children cannot find one of their shoes.
- Put down baby to search for missing shoes.
- Find one of 5-year-old’s missing shoes on the basement steps and bring it up while reminding pleasantly of the clearly designated shoe bins.
- Search in vain for 3-year-old’s shoe (where the heck is it?).
- Suggest another pair of shoes.
- Apologize for suggesting such an insane thing as putting on another pair of shoes so as to avoid quickly escalating tantrum.
- Pleasantly remind 5-year-old to put on shoes.
- Find 3-year-old’s missing shoe inside the toy oven and bring it to her while reminding, slightly less pleasantly, of the clearly designated shoe bins.
- Look at the clock. Four minutes to get out the door. Still plenty of time.
- Remind 5-year-old to put shoes on. We are past pleasantness.
- Pick baby back up. And he pooped.
- Go upstairs to change baby’s diaper while warning that shoes better be on by the time baby’s diaper is changed.
- Change diaper and go back downstairs.
- Observe both children in some sort of shoe-induced trance, shoes dangling listlessly off their tiny, perfect fingers.
- Tell them to get shoes on, now, thus breaking the spell.
- Listen to 3-year-old’s explanation as to why the shoes (that took three minutes to find) are not going to work out after all and that she would rather wear boots.
- Tell 3-year old she may be more comfortable if she doesn’t wear boots on a 90 degree, sunny day.
- Listen to cries of indignation.
- Remind 5-year-old to put the other shoe on, too.
- Tell 3-year-old it doesn’t matter what shoes she puts on, but she needs to put them on NOW.
- Say “wrong foot” to 3-year-old.
- Explain that yes, it is the wrong foot.
- Realize keys are missing. Remember that keys were carefully placed somewhere so as to be easy to find, but have no memory of where that special place might be.
- Say “wrong foot again” to 3-year-old while beginning search for keys.
- Five-year-old’s shoes are on! Tell him to wait outside.
- Listen to 3-year-old scream that it’s not the wrong foot.
- Say it really doesn’t matter what foot the shoes are on. They’re her feet, she can do what she wants.
- Look at clock. One minute.
- Congratulate 3-year-old for getting her hot, sweaty boots onto the wrong feet.
- Tell 3-year-old to go outside.
- Find keys (in pocket) while 3-year-old comes back inside. Listen to her say that it’s too hot to wear boots.
- Repeat steps 26. to 28.
- Give up on the whole “wrong foot” thing. It’s all relative.
- Watch with growing impatience as 3-year-old insists on putting on sandals, including straps, by herself.
- Look at clock. Two minutes late.
- Tell 3-year-old to forget about the shoes and just put them on in the car.
- Make two trips to car — first to carry baby, then to carry 3-year-old, because “ground is too hot.”
- Five-year-old realizes he has to pee. Contemplate going back inside and repeating the process. Reject idea. Have 5-year-old pee on tree.
- Watch in dismay as 5-year-old pees all over his shoes.
- Have 5-year-old take off shoes.
- Carry 5-year-old to the car.
- Go inside and grab a pair of shoes for 5-year-old. Oh shoot, and for the baby, too.
- Look at clock. Ten minutes late.
- Realize not a single child has shoes on.
Next up: strapping everyone into their car seats!More On