Natural Consequences

It’s a new year. A time to look at last year and think about the year ahead. Last year I fell in love with our local paper’s crossword puzzle. Starting each day fifteen minutes ahead of my kids with a sharp pencil and a warm cup of coffee has been a sweet way to welcome the morning. That sacred time is quiet and serene. The fifteen minutes before the kids get out of the house in the morning however are not. It is a total fire drill.

It’s a new year and a time to make some adjustments. The kids went back to school on Monday. Today is Wednesday. We spent Monday and Tuesday mornings doing our usual fire drill. Where’s my toothbrush? Do I have to wear a hat? Did you fill my water bottle? I can’t find my library book. Meanwhile I’ve been harping on them to brush their teeth, load their backpacks and put their shoes on.

Last night at bedtime we agreed to change things. My job was to wake them up and make breakfast and lunch. I would put a bright sticky on the clock to help them visually track their progress. They would be responsible for getting everything else done without reminders and would need to help each other because if one missed the bus both would suffer the consequence. The consequence: bedtime at 7:30 instead of 8:15.

They missed the bus.

It was classic. I watched them eat breakfast, trade baseball cards, pat the dog and wander about the way kids do. I meant to stay completely out of it but I couldn’t help myself. I finally offered, “Make sure you do the things you need to do before you do the things you want to do.”  “Huh? Yeah, okay Mom.” The minutes melted away. I kept myself busy reading the paper while trying to keep my mouth shut. At 7:55 I headed to the bus stop with the dog but no boys. I could hear them scrambling as I closed the door behind me.

They narrowly missed the bus and couldn’t have been more surprised. “We need your help Mom!” my oldest declared. “Do you really like listening to me in the morning?” I asked him. He thought about that and then tried to blame me for not waking him up on time. I didn’t have to respond. The great thing about natural consequences is they speak for themselves. Sure I had the inconvenience of driving them to school but I’ll have a glorious extra 45 minutes to myself this evening and maybe even a stress free morning tomorrow.

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