Phase I Operation Morning Run, Complete!

What a Nag

I am a single dad of an “almost twelve” year old daughter that I adore. As is the case with many kids her age she has started lose her ability to spring out of bed in the morning raring to go out and tackle the day ahead. Join the club. Couple this with her wondrous ability to find joy in examining the lint in her navel and her tendency to turn her morning into a stop-motion animation audition, the result is not pretty. Earlier in the school year I found myself pulling out my few remaining hairs each morning telling her to hurry up; telling her not to forget this or that, stressing myself out to make sure that she was getting to school on time with everything complete. Nagging.

Not Black and White

What exactly was this teaching her? Well, that mornings are horrible of course. That she doesn’t have to think for herself, she can just do her thing and when she falls behind someone will be there to get her unstuck so she doesn’t have to think for herself. I can hear other parent readers everywhere saying, “It’s your job as her Dad to be there for her, and to show her that you will always be there for her.” Yes and no. Like everything in life, it is not that black and white.

I hope she knows that I will always be there for her, that I will always put her first and I am there to give her a hug when she falls. It’s the getting up part that I am talking about today; me picking her up setting her back on her feet, dusting her off and getting her back on track vs. her learning to do it for herself. During one of those crazy mornings back in the fall after dropping her off at school, late, with tear stained eyes and a lot of resentment I decided to actually reflect on how I wanted to approach this situation. How to stop re-acting and start pro-acting.

What’s the plan Stan?

First, I decided what my priorities were. To teach her to enjoy her life, honour her commitments, prioritize her day and love herself is what came to mind. To do this in a way that re-enforces how much I love her is also critical; as well as show her that I will always be here for her.

Next a game plan was developed with these priorities in mind. How would I accomplish all of the above? I wanted to not just get her to school on time every day of my own accord so that I could feel better about myself and avoid some kind of perceived (or actual for that matter) judgement. I decided I needed to be willing to let her fall and learn to work through the consequences of that so she could make a decision on her own to want her mornings to run smoother.

I contacted her teacher to let her know about my daughter’s struggles to get to school on time and that I was going to take a different approach. She was very receptive to the feedback and the plan of action. Then I spoke to my daughter and let her know that I was going to stop nagging at her in the morning to hurry up and to get this done and that done. She was also pretty receptive, at the time I am sure mostly focused on the fact that I would no longer be “bugging” her.

I Have Fallen But I CAN Get-Up!

The next few weeks were a trial and error for her and result was that she was late much more frequently for a short period of time. I was not concerned because I had shared the plan with the teacher. If she asked me questions about how she could arrange her morning, or was looking for advice, I would support her and answer her questions but I did not “offer” advice without being asked and though I had to bite my tongue very frequently, on most mornings I did not utter a peep about hurrying up or what time it was.

The first morning that “I can’t believe I am late again” came out of her mouth, I had to hold back a little smile. Gradually she was able to motivate and organize herself enough to start getting to school on time with consistency. The proof is in the pudding. The teacher actually commented on her report card that she “had done a great job of dealing with her lateness issue in the second half of the term!”

Mission complete! Or so I thought…the universe decided there was more for both of us to learn on this subject. You can read about that in Phase II Operation Morning Run, Complete.

Peace,

Leslie

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2 Comments to “Phase I Operation Morning Run, Complete!”

  1. LOL! I have been doing the same thing with her as far as allowing her to deal with consequence as a result of her distractions or laziness or what have you. I have realized that she is the kind of personality, like myself, that will not respond to nagging. In order for her to learn a lesson she will have to be the one who decides to find a solution and takes the steps to realize new behaviours (with a little bit of quieter Mommy guidance, of course).

    I’ve also been pushing her to “be nice” and not only take her own dishes and put them into the dish washer (or some such task) but to grab whomever else’s dishes she can carry as well. She has protested, indicating that the dishes aren’t hers but I just respond with a shrug.

    “So? Be thoughtful and be nice. Take someone else’s dishes with you when you go. Especially if that person just cooked a meal for you.”

    More often than not she takes more than just her own dishes to the dishwasher or brings dessert for more than one upon getting her own dessert. She is certainly improving.

    Nice post
    Joni

  2. Must have been tough to bite your tongue, Les. Nicely done! 🙂

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