When I take my youngest daughter to preschool every morning we have a ritual. I take her out of the car and she demands to hold my hand before I can even close and lock the car door. We take the big kids to their respective classroom lines and say goodbye to them. Then we walk to the back of the school and play on the playground until her door opens 15 minutes later.
My daughter has a bit of Mama-diagnosed OCD so our mornings (and surprisingly just our mornings) are always the same. It is funny and exhausting and endearing at the same time because it never waivers. While I try to talk to the other moms on the playground, she commands my attention to tell me that she is either too cold or too hot. She will then refuse to do whichever thing I suggest to fix her internal body temperature issue. She doesn’t want mittens or a hat. She won’t take her sweatshirt off. She won’t zip her coat. She won’t roll up her sleeves. No matter what I offer, she refuses. Reverse psychology usually backfires. Giving her control, asking other’s opinions or ignoring her do absolutely nothing to provide relief from the potential meltdown. Miraculously, once she interrupts me from my only daily dose of sane conversation with other frazzled moms, her body regulates and her temperature problem is cured without any intervention. Then, she will ask me exactly 3 times (spaced about 5 minutes apart) if it is time to go into her school yet. “Not yet, honey, 10 more minutes”. “Not yet, honey, 5 more minutes”. And finally, “Yes, honey, it is time now”.
Once, we get into school, she will do four things: 1. Grab my hand and try to get us both to fit side by side through the door that the teacher is propping open even though there is only room for us to walk single file. 2. Ask me frantically (as if she has asked 20 times and I have not yet answered) to help her take off her coat because her “arms are stuck” and 3. Ask me if her hair is sticking up (that one just started recently and it drives me nuts). 4. Get in line to wash her hands first, but then let all the other kids go in front of her so she is last. After the school’s required routine of washing her hands she says hello to her teacher and/or a few select friends, and then gets to work on the morning’s table top activities. When it is time for me to leave she begins her most complicated, time-consuming ritual. Some might find it adorable; some may think it is annoying. It is not one I instigated. It is not one I encourage. It is not one I helped her to create. But it is the one I love the most.
Every morning before I can leave to go about my day, she asks me to bend down to her level. She then proceeds to kiss me on every available body part before I am allowed to stand up. Right hand, left hand, right cheek, left cheek, right eye, left eye, nose, hair, chin, neck, ears and finally lips. If she misses any spot, she does it again. Even when I am in a hurry, I try to savor the moment. Because in a week and a half she is turning 5 and I never know when this will end.