Herding Cats

I swear it takes me close to 30 minutes to get Cameron picked up from pre-school in the mornings.  And that is not factoring in my drive time to and from the school.  It’s not like it’s a difficult process or anything.  It’s 3 simple steps.

1.  Parents come into the building and wait outside the classroom until 11:30 am

2.  At 11:30 teacher opens the door and the kids all chorus, “Come on in”

3.  Kids are already wearing coats and backpacks so parents collect papers out of the mailbox and leave with their child.

Simple, right?  Simple should mean short, quick, and easy but it doesn’t.  First there is the problem with getting into the classroom.  For some unknown reason the 4 and 5 year olds can not seem to grasp the fact that their parents will come into the classroom to get them.  For security purposes the teacher will not let them out of the classroom until she’s seen that they’re with their parent.  But that doesn’t stop all 12 of them from crowding into the doorway to see if their parent has arrived to take them home yet.  So you’ve got 12 parents trying to push their way into the classroom against 12 pre-schoolers who are trying to see out.  Add in about half a dozen younger siblings who have no idea that they’re standing in the doorway blocking everyone’s path and you end up with one big cluster.

Once inside the classroom I have to turn and make sure Kaylee made it through the crush with me.  She can be following right behind me through the classroom door and get distracted by a glitter sparkle on the carpet which will prevent her from continuing on into the actual classroom.  Once I locate Kaylee, my next job is to locate Cameron.  It truly amazes me how much every 4 and 5 year old looks alike.  It doesn’t matter if they have brown hair, blonde hair, or red hair, glassess or no glasses and any nationality…when there’s a whole line of them staring at you waiting for their parents to come and pick them up they all look like the same child.  So it takes me a minute or two to get my bearings and locate my child.  Truly it shouldn’t be that difficult, all I really need to do is locate the one child in the group NOT wearing his coat and backpack.

Because despite getting instructions to put on said coat and backpack, and being given ample time to do so my son can not seem to bother himself with following that direction.  By the time I manage to get myself and Kaylee into the classroom he’s standing in line waiting for us and his coat and backpack have been casually flung by him to rest 10-20 feet away.  My first order of business then is to have him get his coat on.  I usually have to repeat this 2-3 times because either its too loud in the room and he can’t hear me, or because he’s so busy messing around that he doesn’t listen to me anyway.  Meanwhile, Kaylee has wandered over to one of the toy stations and back and is now tugging on the hem of my coat insisting that she wants to show me “sumting.”

Wresting myself out of Kaylee’s grasp takes some effort and is usually met with a wail by her (and before you suggest that I go and look at whatever it is she wants to show me, it doesn’t do any good.  Once you look at one thing she wants to show you something else and something else…until you’ve now spent three and a half hours checking out every single item in the pre-school classroom).  I make my way over to the mailbox and pull out whatever information the teacher left for us that day.  Then I make my way over to Cameron again, who at this point has still not pulled his coat on.  Then I stand there and try to read through the information I just picked up while repeating over and over again, “Get your coat on.”

Meanwhile Kaylee has taken an intense interest in something in the classroom and needs to be wrestled away from it.  A few minutes of coaxing and prodding will usually get her moving.  Once I get her in gear I realize I’ve lost sight of Cameron.  He’s usually out of the classroom by then and wandering through the gymnasium located right outside the door to the classroom.  By the time I get both of them moving slowly toward the door of the classroom we are the last family there.  His teacher mentioned to me one day (chuckling to herself all the while) that we are always the first family to arrive and the last family to leave.

Once I’ve got them both into the gym and heading for the stairs again it seems like it should be smooth sailing, but again its not.  The toddlers generally have their free play time at the point that we’re leaving so both Cameron and Kaylee will alternatively get engrossed in watching whatever the toddlers are doing that day, and my trek across the gym is filled with herding one child forward then heading back to re-direct the other one and get them pointed in the general direction of the door again, then switching back over to the first one again because they’ve veered off course as well.

At the entrance to the stairs it really does become more smooth, but yet problematic in a different sense.  Technically, the rule at the pre-school is that you must walk your pre-schooler to and from their classroom because allowing them to take the stairs alone is a liability for the pre-school and so it’s your job as a parent to keep them safe on the stairs.  So, we get to the staircase and Cameron takes off like a little rocket…every single day.  He runs to the top of the stairs, disappears through the door at the top, and vanishes from sight.  I’ve talked to him about it many many times, and he just doesn’t seem to get it.

While he’s off doing that, I’m stuck with another problem at the bottom of the stairs.  Kaylee will not allow me to help her get up the stairs, but at the same time she won’t climb them herself.  So I get to stand at the bottom of the staircase and choose between convincing Kaylee to actually walk up the stairs on her own which makes her very happy and getting completely fed up with how long this whole process has taken and quickly carrying her up the steps which is always met by the pathetic wails of “No, I do it!”

Finally at the top of the stairs I have to locate Cameron (who thankfully is almost always sitting up at the front desk–I think the ladies who run the place wait for him to pop his head out of the door and direct him there) without getting Kaylee off course again, and we can finally head out the door of the pre-school.  But WAIT, Kaylee has suddenly found the window pane situated next to the open door and will stand there pushing on it and complaining that it won’t open.  It isn’t until the third or fourth time you’ve explained that window doesn’t open that she’ll comprehend your statement and walk through the door.  Meanwhile Cameron has rushed past you to the second door and has pushed through it to get himself outside.  So the window/door thing takes even longer because you’ve got one eye outside on Cameron and are hollering for him to “get back in here.”

Outside the school it becomes even more chaotic as the kids take off in two seperate directions to get to the car which actually lies in a third direction that they didn’t take.  Then you’ve got to deal with Kaylee insisting on walking down the handicapped ramp even if that is in the opposite direction than she needs to go to get to our car, and Cameron leaving his backpack at various points along the sidewalk because it’s suddenly too big and heavy to carry (even though it only contains one set of clothing)  Once at the car you’ve got to convince Kaylee to actually climb up into her seat or again wrestle her in yourself which causes more screaming, then you’ve got to remind Cameron 38 more times that he needs to buckle his seatbelt.

By the time we actually get settled and ready to leave the parking lot I’m ready to go home and crash, even if I wasn’t the least bit sleepy before heading out to pick Cameron up from pre-school.

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