The Second Week of School, Oreos, and Rapunzel

A photo by Sonja Langford. unsplash.com/photos/eIkbSc3SDtI

We are two weeks into the school year, and I’ve come to accept some things about my daughter and myself. We are not highly structured women. Our free-spirited, gypsy souls thrive in the loose structure of summer days where schedules are flexible and planned activities are minimal. I am completely sincere when I say that it took the entirety of last year to feel halfway adjusted to the school schedule, but even during drop off of the last day I was thinking, “There has to be a better way to do this school thing”.

I was determined to have a better morning routine this school year, so I did some prep work during the weeks leading up to school starting. The long days of summer camp in the heat index of 110 concluded with my child losing her mind in the evenings; therefore, she slept in my bed quite a bit as it was a guarantee for a relatively peaceful going-to-bed process. Before school started, we worked on transitioning her back to her bed. We also did a little shopping on Amazon and purchased a Disney princess alarm clock that came with an impressive strobe light display. She loved it. She was excited about it. She popped out of bed like a Pop-Tart and cooed loving words to it.

We are now in the 2nd week of school, and the shine is off the apple. Twice this week, she has slept right through the alarm clock. I have let the infernal beeping go on for 7 minutes and 10 minutes, in hopes that it would eventually result in a child that was awake. It did not. Yesterday, I heard the alarm go off for 3 beeps and then it went silent. I waited and listened for the sound of child size 12 feet to hit the floor, but no such sound came to my ear. No child emerged from the bedroom with bed head and grumpy face. The battle of the morning time routine is rearing its ugly head yet again, my friends. Back to the drawing board!

I did try to get us in the habit of picking out her clothes the night before, and that worked great for all of 5 days. This week has been chock full of activities after work, and the outfit pre-planning has fallen to the wayside. The morning debates surrounding picture pants, princess dresses, P.E. worthy shoes and the appropriateness of wearing tiaras to school have added a considerable amount of time to our morning routine and created some less than stellar moments to start the day with.

Needless to say, the struggle with adjusting to a new school routine for May Lee and a new work routine for me has resulted in a consumption of all things Oreo that is unparalleled by all of my previous Oreo binges. It is a thing of wonder, really. It was during one such Oreo errand that I learned that I really might have lost my touch with the menfolk over the years. I ordered 2 Oreo milkshakes at a local drive-through, and please let me assure you that I did not eat both milkshakes. I had a partner in crime on this particular day. As I pulled to the window to pay for my order, a guy leaned out of the drive through window and gave me what I can only describe as his best Flynn Rider impression. You know the scene where he turns on the charm with Rapunzel? “You broke my smolder”? Yes, that is the scene I’m referring to, and like Rapunzel, my face must have reacted and betrayed my inner thoughts of “what are you doing? Is that, like, flirting? Because it’s kind of creepy…” I believe that my face must have betrayed me, because after he returned my change to me, he tossed a milkshake at me that did not have the delightful whipped topping that I had requested, nor did he provide me with a straw with which to enjoy my delicious treat.

I could have easily written off the neglected whipped cream and straw as a simple oversight. However, a young lady appeared with the 2nd milkshake, and the whipped topping was tall and proud and the straw was riding shotgun. The abrupt shift from the initial over-attentiveness to the curtness of the money exchange, the sloppy milkshake, and the young woman with the perfect milkshake had me convinced that Flynn Rider was a little upset that I found his awkward drive-through window overtures creepy. Also, can we discuss what a weird little power trip that is over some Oreo milkshakes? A girl doesn’t respond the way a guy wants her to, so he withholds small but noticeable portions of her order?

Maybe that’s just my trauma talking. Like my therapist said, maybe that is just my unhealed “wounds from being a woman” showing up, but it also wouldn’t be the first time that I would have experienced backlash from a male who didn’t get the kind of reaction that he was wanting from me. I’ve noticed that the more I accept the truth that this kind of thing has less to do with me and a whole lot more to do with what’s going on in them, the more likely I am to raise the situation to my standards. This means that I’m getting better at making sure that I don’t leave the interaction without what I entered the interaction to receive or what is due to me. I used to just run and hide and think awful things about myself and my worthiness, like I must somehow be messed up for someone to treat me that way. Now, I am much more likely to ask for what I need, to request that something be redone, and to expect respect in all interactions.

I’m far from perfect at this newfound boundary-setting skill, but I’m getting better every day. And no, I did not park my car, walk into the restaurant, and demand my whipped cream and a straw. That day, I didn’t have the mental or emotional energy to engage one more thing without completely losing my cool. But you know what, I know down to the bottom of my soul that if my daughter had been in the car with me, I would have done exactly that. It is really important to me that she is much better equipped to deal these situations than I was. I don’t want her to be in her late 30’s trying to recover her self-esteem like her mother is doing. I want her to be able to recognize when she is experiencing undeserved backlash and to be able to respond to it head on with a cool composure rather than reacting to it out of heated emotion. I want her to have enough insight into herself to be confident in her behavior when she is in the right and compassionate enough to extend grace to herself and others when their behavior falls short. Brene Brown discovered in her work, The Gift of Imperfection, that the most compassionate people were the most boundaried people, and that really sums up my goal for my daughter and myself quite nicely. Especially since we have a Rapunzel face that gives us away every time.

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