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On Opening Car Doors

March 24, 2010

Our children are incredibly self-reliant. It’s how we have raised them to be, and I am thankful for it…it’s one of the things, actually, that makes the thought of starting completely slam over with another baby kind of worth it (no, not pregnant…just thinking ahead). If my kids were constantly hanging on my shirttails, or whining for me to do everything for them…I couldn’t even ponder it.

I wake them in the morning by simply turning on the light (harsh, I know…but it works) and saying, “morning. Time to rise and shine…” and up they get. Immediately—no snooze button behavior allowed. While I shower and wake myself up, they pick out their own clothing and get dressed. Sometimes Lawson puts his shirt on inside out…and I let him wear it that way. That’s just Lawson.

While I’m fixing my make-up and hair, they fix their own breakfast and eat it. I have to check on them intermittently during this process, because sometimes Lawson “forgets” that the t.v. is not allowed on. They make things like cereal, oatmeal, bagels with cream cheese, Pop-Tarts, rolls with butter and ham, microwave bacon, fruit…whatever’s available and striking their current fancy.

When I’m finished with my own morning ablutions, I have to remind Lawson to put his shoes on and brush his teeth. I always give them a five to ten minute warning before we’re ready to walk out the door, so they’ll be ready with backpacks and coats and whatever else they may require.

They’re fabulous.

I think my desire and my willingness for them to be so independent comes from my own latch-key childhood. I remember well getting off the bus around a block and a half from my house, walking home, and letting myself and my brothers in.  We’d pour ourselves Kool-Aid and grab some cookies from the cabinet…occasionally we’d even re-heat leftovers and eat that for snack. We’d get to work on our homework, and then spend the afternoon playing or watching t.v. until our mother returned home from work.

I know, from experience, that kids can be independent…that it not only won’t kill them, but it will in fact make them stronger and more active thinkers and doers. I guess this is why my morning car-rider experience pushed some buttons.

I left home anticipating just another morning in the car-rider drop off loop. I arrived at school three minutes before the kids were due to be in their classrooms, running just a wee bit late as usual, and pulled into place behind the fifty or so other cars that were also running just a wee bit late. I was a little surprised…normally this close to 8:20 there were only maybe five to ten cars in line.

Three minutes later, I’d only been passed by around three to five cars on their way out. I peered up ahead, annoyed at how long everything was taking.

There was a Mommy-I-do-everything-for-my-sweet-baby parked square in the middle of the loop (as opposed to pulling forward a couple of lengths in order to let more parents release their children safely), climbing out of her van and opening the back door. As I watched, she actually lifted first one child, then another to the ground. They looked to be around Lawson’s age.

Hello. I know car doors these days are amazingly heavy, but are your kids really incapable of opening a door and climbing down on their own? Do you still wipe their adorable little tushes for them?

Finally, after standing by the hood and waving her girls inside, Mommy-I-do-everything-for-my-sweet-baby climbed back in her vehicle, restarted it, and left. At a snail’s pace, of course. The three cars behind her, having relinquished their passengers long ago, roared out after her. We crept forward a few more increments…

…until we were halted, mid-progression, by another one! Doing the same thing…parking in the middle of the loop, getting out…My ire was rising and I was starting to mutter to myself—never a good sign. People waiting, Mommies. Kids are late. Hustle your buns.

I don’t know what it was this morning…a serious epidemic of the legless, armless, and brainless, I think…but I must’ve watched four parents follow this same procedure after the first two. It was 8:26 before my kids climbed out of my car (under their own steam, I might add) and ran into the school building.

Whatever happened to allowing kids to have a little autonomy, a little independence? Let them open the door and climb out, in the uber-safe environment of the car-rider line, on their own. Let them walk their own backpacks to the door—seriously, because they do manage to carry the thing around all day. They know you love them and wish they were at home with you…we all know you love them, now.

I guess I just don’t get it…the whole helicopter thing. Sure, kids grow up fast, and you want to be everything to them for as long as you possibly can, but let’s be realistic about this. Unless you want your kid living at home when he’s thirty-five, and still having you wash his dirty underwear for him…let him open his own car door.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2010 1:34 pm

    Lori!!! I am busting here. Oh my gosh. Okay, here’s my biggest baddest worstest. I drive up in the same said lane you are talking about only no one can get in because there is a car blocking……and guess what? There’s no driver!!! Cuz mommy is not only opening doors for her kids but she’s walking them to their class as well!!!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stuck behind these cars. Oh boy do I see red. Big big red! There’s a PARKING lot next door. If you’re gonna park, go park in IT!

    Phew! So glad someone sees things my way.

    Hee! I still carry around my almost five year old. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW!!! I always said I’d never do that!!!!

    I’m such a hypocrite. 😀

  2. March 24, 2010 2:01 pm

    WOW! 😀 – I love the new look on your site! I have been planning on placing photos of my family on my blog – also with phrases or labels that describe them; I listed some, then forgot about them, until I saw your blog… (now, what did I do with that list?) I’m inspired! 🙂

    I am also inspired with your independent parenting. (NO – I am NOT like “Mommy-I-do-everything-for-my-sweet-baby!” However, I don’t think I’m quite as good at instilling independence as you are. I need to kick it up a notch – thanks for your freeing example.

    PS – I still think your going to get your way with Duane. 😉 Still wishing you the best of luck!

  3. March 24, 2010 3:18 pm

    OH! I love your new blog redo! Pretty!

    “My job is to work myself OUT of a job” is what I tell my kids. I agree with you on teaching our children independence.

    Loved your post about the moms hogging the drop off lane! Been there, done that, so glad it’s over!

  4. March 24, 2010 3:28 pm

    Our school HAD that problem years ago. Our assistant principal took care of it for us. For a year, if a parent stopped their car and got out, she would direct them to the parking lot and explain to them that the area they were in was for dropping off students, not parents getting out of their car. She nicely explain how them getting out of the car was making a line of other parents back up onto side road blocking this side road. If the parents complain, she would have the resource officer there the next day telling them the same thing. After a year of this (actually less than a year) the parents are now in the routine and word is out about what happens if you don’t follow the routine. As for those who complain that their child can’t open the door (many times it’s because of the safety locks), Sandy the VP opens the car door for them, making the need for the parent to get out void.
    My big complaint now is the parents who come early so that they can drop their kids off closer to the bus loop doors because heaven forbid that their child walks the extra 10 feet. Though I have had a great many laughs at their expense when they get caught in the bus loop by buses that won’t be moving any time soon.

  5. March 24, 2010 4:42 pm

    Lori, I’m taking all parenting tips that I can get from you! I *want* to give my son more independence, seeing as how he will be 13 in a few short months, but it seems he’s afflicted by the adolescent disease that is “making poor choices,” which is accompanied by having “off-the-charts ADHD.” However, I never have been, nor ever will be, one of those helicopter parents (who were ever so present when I taught dual-enrollment English to high school seniors of above-average intelligence). No lie. Thank you for this post!

  6. March 24, 2010 5:00 pm

    This is funny & frustrating, all at the same time! My problem is that I see a little too much of myself in it. Not the whole drop off lane thing, ’cause when we do drive that’s what automatic sliding doors are for, but in other areas. I struggle with being there for them without ALWAYS having to be there. I’m working on it, so no honking at me please. I’ll eventually learn and get out of the way. 🙂

  7. March 24, 2010 6:48 pm

    ooooooo….you are sooooo cute when you are mad!!! 🙂 lol!!! loved it! you described my mornings PERFECTLY…except just substitute the Lawson with the Adam. PERFECT!!!

  8. March 24, 2010 10:40 pm

    I might slow down a bit as I push them out of the car…if they were good that morning.

  9. March 25, 2010 2:18 am

    Yep, I am LOVING this new look. And I mean like, IN LOVE, lots of “Ooohing” and “Awwing” going on over here!

    And I love independent kids – it’s why I got to sleep in this morning (on a side note, I would personally love to give a ha-uge kiss to whoever invented cereal).

  10. Anaise permalink
    March 25, 2010 7:04 am

    I’m taking up the gauntlet seriously (is that a mistake? Am I supposed to just laugh at this?) to defend parents in their individual roles meeting the needs of their individual children.

    I do in fact make my kids open and close their own car doors, and I think that the drop off line at school should be used for just that, without blocking others, but I do defend the mothers who are not raising their children to be as independent as you are raising yours.

    I applaud your child-rearing tactics–from the stories you write, they seem like delightful people. My mom raised me much as you are raising yours and I consider her work to be a success. I hope you do have another baby and raise him/her just as beautifully as you’re raising the first two–lucky kids!

    I also applaud the “Mommy-I-do-everything-for-my-sweet-baby” kind of mommies who are setting an example of constant service–their kids will grow up and eventually cut the apron strings and be another kind of delightful people. They’ll just arrive at adulthood in a different way.

    (Sheesh, that’s a mouthful of a post response!)

    Hope the line moves smoothly this morning 🙂

  11. Lori permalink*
    March 25, 2010 9:29 am

    Rachel–Aah, the empty car…another of my “buttons”–I have so many…and I have to admit, I LOVE it when Lawson snuggles up for a cuddle or jumps up into my arms for me to *attempt* to lug around…nothing wrong with that. 😉

    Corine & Cee-thank you! It was time for a change. If you click on the pics it links you to a page that’s all about each person…I may add to it from time to time. And don’t feel like you have “kick it up a notch” just because of my lambast. I think there’s definitely a happy medium. I was probably way too self-reliant as a child; however, it absolutely made me into a VERY strong woman. That’s both a good thing, and a bad thing. From the sounds of it, you’re rearing your children beautifully.

    Bonnie–hilarious! I think that’s a great way to take care of the problem.

    Michele–that was a super-sweet thing to say, but please don’t follow my example! I have a lot of insecurities about the way I parent, and I think it’s only by God’s grace that my kids are as normal as they are. 😉 And I totally empathize with you on the son issue. You want so badly to help them be responsible, etc, but that ole ADHD/adolescent thing is a killer. Right there with you…in fact, posting about something similar today.

    Natalie–your kids sound incredible, so keep on exactly as you are. And I think it helps if they simply know that you’re there for them, even when you’re not precisely by their side…

    Misty–you know, I’ve been told that before. I get a “little fire in my eye”…glad you can empathize!

    Jason–a little Mafia-drop-off, hmmm? 🙂

    Super Sarah–thank you, thank you! I love that you likey. It was time for a change-up. And so glad you got to sleep in–how awesome! Cereal is KING!

    Anaise–well…I hope you did get a little giggle out of it. I get a little fired up sometimes. 😉 You are absolutely correct, though, in defending the individualism of parenting and children…everyone’s different, and even with siblings, a parent will find one style that works over a different approach (or at least, that’s what I’m finding…Lawson isn’t quite as independent as Autumn, and think it’s going to take him a loooong time to get to the same place. Maybe it’s a boy/girl thing?). I carry a lot of baggage that makes me react the way I do–my own uber-independence as a kid, my high-school teaching days, where, like Michelle, I dealt constantly with parents who were unable to let go, and even a good friend who is a complete helicopter. I think she’s an amazing mother, and wish I was more like her in some ways, but then I see things like her inability to face her childrens’ weaknesses and wrongdoings because she’s so completely tied…whew–getting on that soapbox again! Sorry.

    Anyway–you are quite right in how beautiful that example of service is. I should probably be more of a servant to my kids.

    And the line moved VERY smoothly this morning… 😉

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