Or Why I’m Always Half Asleep When I Drop Carter Off at School
We have a poop issue in the mornings before school. Not every morning, but more than half of the time, there is panic about poop.
Carter needs to poop before he goes to school. Needs.
With a history of acute constipation that still occasionally gives him trouble, he’s understandably nervous. No one wants to sit on the toilet and scream and holler in pain at school. No, that won’t do.
Especially since there is a great deal of cussing involved. These days, I know Carter is constipated (or having “poop trouble” as he calls it) when I hear this coming from the bathroom: Stupid fucking poop you’re hurting my fucking bitch ass butthole! Get outta there aaaaaaah….. nuuuuuhhh….. bitch ass fucking shit get outta there you asshole fucker poop! Nuuuuuh…. Aaarrrgghhh…… Come outta there you fucker ass poop!
As you can see, he knows all the cuss words but doesn’t hear them enough to use them right. Hence “bitch ass” and other odd constructions.
I’m so proud.
The good people who run the tiny school in the Presbyterian church might not appreciate this. Carter knows he’d get in trouble for saying (shouting) all of that at school, but swears that there’s no way he could get the poop out any other way. And as we all know (we, who have repaired appliances, changed tires in the rain, and stepped on Lego pieces in the dark), certain situations require certain words.
We taught Jacob, Abbie, and Spencer that hate and stupid were bad words and that they were never allowed in our house, along with all the usual disallowed words. With Carter? We’re thrilled that he’s not had the opportunity to learn any racial slurs. Controlling what comes out of his mouth would require liberal applications of duct tape. Duct taping a child’s mouth shut is (I’ve heard) a bad parenting technique.
Also? There is the issue of little guys in the school bathrooms. Really, if I knew there were darkness balls or lava monsters in the bathroom, I’d want to run in, pee, and get the hell out as fast as I could, too.
Hence the daily need to poop before school. I’m pretty sure that my kid is the only one in the history of kids who regularly begs for a suppository. “Put the medicine up my butt, Mom! Please, Mom, I need the kind that will make me poop right now!” he pleads. I refuse while stirring Miralax into his milk.
Now you will understand why, on the mornings when Carter jumps into the bed with me and crows, “Mom! I pooped! A whole lot of poop!” I’m about as happy as a mom whose kid just got his Ivy League acceptance letter.
I love easy poop mornings.
But then comes the drive to school.
The troubles on the way to school don’t have anything to do with poop. Even if Carter did not successfully move his bowels before we left the house, he leaves that issue behind in favor of plain old free-floating anxiety.
About going to school.
Where he is happy.
Because anxiety is not rational.
I love to watch people try to get Carter to tell them why he’s afraid to go to school. Are the other kids mean to you? Do you have teachers who you don’t like? Is the work too hard? No, no, and no.
People want (very badly want) things to be rational. Logical. Spock is only funny because we’re all so much like him.
On the way to school I channel my inner new-age guru. Who knew I had one of those? Not I. I’ve been making fun of that shit since it made its way into the mainstream in the 80s. She’s in there somewhere, though, because I do this whole meditation, calming thing every morning as we drive.
First, he puts a bravery in his lap.
Wait, you need to know what a bravery is. I mean, other than an ordinary old bandanna. Which it most definitely is not. Have I told this story before? I can’t remember; I’ll tell it again now because really, it was one of my most inspired parenting moments. I like to tell the stories that make me sound all genius-y and inspired. They offset the flying coffee cup stories.
On one of his first days at his current school, Carter was panicking. “I can’t go! No, Mommy, don’t make me go! I can’t do it! We have to homeschool some more!” he screamed, and I knew damn well that homeschooling one more day was not an option. I thought, he needs a talisman. I have to give him something to hold.
And there it was: a bandanna hanging over my too-bright digital alarm clock.
Next? The mythology. I spun hard and fast: this was not a bandanna but a bravery, and I carried it to school on days when I was scared, as did my dad, and his mom, and countless other little boys and girls. Every person who carries it takes out all the bravery they need and puts even more back in and isn’t it all so magical and lovely?
Which is not entirely a lie because I was an anxious little girl and I totally would have carried a bravery if anyone had thought to tell me about them.
Obviously, the story of the braveries should be the truth, which is very much like the actual truth.
Besides, I left the cult of I Never Lie To My Children behind long ago, so whatever.
Someday? I will write the whole family mythology here – about the tooth fairy and her unreliable cell service, and why Santa’s elves wear brown, and the meetings that every new parent attends at the north pole. But later.
Sigh. My own distractibility makes me tired sometimes.
Anyway, when we get into the car, Carter gets one of his braveries (He used to carry one, then two, and now he stuffs his pockets full of as many as will fit.) out of his pocket and smooths it open across his lap. Then? I channel that inner new-age guru for the visualizations and breathing techniques she provides and away we drive.
Smooth the bravery on your lap, Carter. Deep breath. Slow, deep breaths. That’s good. In through your nose, good. Now slow, slow, blow out through your mouth. Close your eyes and look at your fishes. Is the fire fish playing today? Look for the rainbow fish.
I speak all monotone and soothing, just like those meditation recordings that people loved back in the day, and by the time we’re halfway there? Carter is only sort of holding himself together, barely managing to avoid hyperventilation. I, on the other hand, am in very real danger of falling asleep.
Apparently I’m pretty good at this new-age guru stuff, but only if you’re already calm.
I don’t think there’s any money on helping calm people get calmer.
When we arrive at school, there is clutching and screaming, occasionally begging. Some days it’s not so bad; other days it’s a nightmare and by the time I leave, I’m crying almost as hard as Carter is.
Within five minutes? He calms down. He feels fine.
If he has to poop while he’s there, he’ll feign a stomachache so that his teachers will call me. I’ll drive over there, take him to a bathroom at the other end of the church, and let him cuss his face off.
I’m all about the subjectivity of good parenting.
Except for duct tape. Just say no to duct tape as a parenting tool.