Christina and shoes have never gone together. Ever. In the summer she loves to run through rocks, bark, mud, and sand in just her bare feet. Cold? No problem. She has been known to run outside shoeless in winter weather. I really wasn’t sure how to remedy this situation.
For example, almost every day my daughter has her shoes on backwards. I don’t know how many times Mark has sat down with her and showed her how to figure out which shoe goes on which foot. Nevertheless, even if we send her to school with her shoes on the right feet, she returns home with them on the wrong feet. I swear she does this because it irritates us and we can’t get mad at her about it.
One morning we got all the way to school and I hear her little voice from the back seat tell me, “I don’t have my shoes.”
I looked at her through the rear view mirror. “What do you mean you don’t have any shoes?”
“I left them at home.”
At that point I let the other kids out of the van and put the van in park. From that point Christina and I proceeded to climb through the car looking for anything that might fit her feet. I really didn’t want to go back home.
We were in the car searching for her shoes so long that we heard a knock at the window. I reached over to open the window. It was the vice-principal. “Is everything okay in here?” he asked. I can imagine what he was thinking. We were sitting at the front of the carpool line and I’m sure that he could see the car shaking and shadows moving around inside.
“Everything’s fine,” I smiled, “We’re just having shoe issues.” I then went to the trunk where I found a pair of snow boots. Christina began to put them on and then made a mad dash into the school. Another exciting shoe related day.
Almost every morning we do a housewide shoe search. About 90% of the time Christina has no idea where her shoes are. We drive carpool in the morning, so we really need to leave on time. All 5 of us who can walk end up searching through the house for the creative location of the day where Christina’s shoes might be. They are almost never in the same place. This morning one was in the laundry room by the cat litter box and the other was in the bucket with the train pieces in the play room.
The fact that we are almost late every day had been bugging me until I got a great idea on how to remedy the situation. I was listening to Kevin Leman on Focus on the Family. He is the author of the book Have a New Kid By Friday. He shared a hilarious story about a mom who had a son that made everyone late everyday. One day she left him and took everyone else to school. Then she picked him up and dropped him off without a note to excuse his absence. He was never late again after he had to go to the principal’s office and explain why he was late. I thought I’d try this idea myself. Christina is too young to leave alone, but Mark is usually home until I return from dropping the kids off at school.
I gave Christina a week of warnings. I told her that if she wasn’t ready that one day I was going to leave without her. One day she had the nerve to tell me, “You always say that and you never really do.” Game on!
On Tuesday I gave her a 15 minute, 10 minute, and 5 minute warning. Then I told Elena to get in the car. (She wanted to go find Christina’s shoe herself, but I wouldn’t let her.) I think Christina was hand feeding the cat. As soon as the garage door opened she showed up at the door. No shoes, socks, coat or backpack.
“Mommy-don’t leave me!” she screamed in a panic.
I leaned my head out the window, “I told you I was going to leave and you didn’t get ready. I’m outta here!”
From that point she didn’t run in the house. She started crying from the garage door with a look of shock on her face. She didn’t believe that I was going to really do it. The most amazing thing was that the rest of us were actually on time to school with TIME TO SPARE. No one had to run into the school to make it before the bell. It was so much more relaxing than usual.
When I returned, Christina was dressed and laying across the floor in a state of depression. “I can’t believe you left!” I put her in the car and took her to school. When she entered her classroom she paused, looked at me and sighed. I figured that she wouldn’t do that again. I was wrong.
The next morning was a complete repeat of the day before. This time when I was driving her to school late she told me, “You don’t even like me!”
I looked at her through the rear view mirror, “This has nothing to do with me. You are responsible for yourself. If you had been ready, you would have made it to school on time.”
She crossed her arms and huffed. I continued, “Do I have to ask Elena to put her shoes on in the morning?”
A weak NO came from the back seat.
“Do I ask her to put her coat on?”
“Do I ask Elena to get her back pack ready?”
“What were you doing when I left?”
“Ummmmmm. Playing with the cat?”
I think it was beginning to sink in. I closed the conversation, “All you need to do is get yourself ready. I’m not going to do it. Elena is not going to do it. Daddy is not going to do it. I always love you. You just need to take care of yourself.”
The car was quiet for the rest of the trip, but I think she learned a lesson that day. The next day I went to leave and she had been waiting in the car for ME. She was so proud of herself–she was beaming. I told her how proud I was at her when I saw that she even had her shoes on. They were on the wrong feet, of course, but she had finally taken some responsibility for herself.