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It’s picture day at my daughter’s preschool.

I never mention this. I just make sure that Summer’s hair is brushed and pulled back in a gorgeous headband.

As we walk into school, a friend says, “Summer, you look so pretty for pic–”

I start gesturing violently, trying to silently communicate that she must not mention picture day. She either gets this or is frightened by my mad thrashing and abruptly stops talking. I make a mental note to explain the situation to her later. Oh and I look down and make another mental note to stop wearing my shirts inside out to school.

Immediately forget both notes to self.

I say goodbye to Summer and leave it in the hands of the teachers. They are my only hope. One mention of picture day from me and I know Summer will shut it down. There will be no photo. But the teachers… sometimes they can work magic.

Apparently, the school was a bit short on fairy dust. Maybe it’s an extra charge for magic like the extended day or pizza for lunch?

There is no picture. The reason? Summer says, “I didn’t know the guy taking the pictures.” Okay.

Thankfully, on our Florida trip, I snapped this….


The next day it’s pouring. On rainy days, parents can drop their kids in front of the elementary school and everyone just runs inside. But my kindergartener Dylan refuses to do this. She wants me to walk her in. In the rain. With my three other kids.

I don’t have the energy to park and schlep everyone into the school.ย  I offer the highest prize out there in the kid universe… a yard stick of gum.

They actually sell this at the local candy store. Because it’s obviously a snap to throw a yard of gum in your pocket.

She agrees.

I am in a long line of cars. We approach the front of the school.ย  Dylan unbuckles and grabs her backpack. I am silently gleeful.ย  And then I hear sobbing. She’s breaking down. She’s scared.ย  And she won’t get out of the car.

“But honey, the entrance is right there. Just a few yards of gum away. You can do it! It’s no big deal. Run Dylan run!”

There is no running. Just more crying from the back of the minivan.

The crossing guard is yelling at me. The parents behind me are annoyed. I am sweating.

I pull the car up – just enough so that the line of cars can squeeze by and continue the drop-offs. I ignore the icy stare from the crossing guard. I lock the car (with my three other children inside – is this allowed?!), grab Dylan and run her into the entrance of building. Then I sprint back out, hop in the minivan and drive off.

And this is exactly why I don’t have personalized plates.

P.S. I went to the candy store and bought Dylan a human size pack of gum for being so brave and almost getting out of the car.

P.P.S. I bought myself some chocolate malt balls for being so brave and not having a nervous breakdown in the car drop off line.

P.P.P.S. I realize I am willing to subject myself to more public humiliation if it justifies buying more chocolate malt balls.

mama bird notes:

If you are looking for something to do in NYC this weekend, visit the Pier 62 Carousel by Chelsea Piers or the family friendly St. Patrick’s Day parade in Park Slope on Sunday.

23 Responses to it’s really hard to force my kids to do what i want

  • Beth says:

    Oh. My. I just had a conversation today with my 4-yr. old preschooler about getting pictures taken next week at preschool and she got VERY nervous. Told me she “doesn’t know how to smile.” Makes her life sound very sad and depressing doesn’t it? When a 4-yr. old doesn’t know how to smile??? Good grief! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And I totally relate to the whole bribing your kid with candy thing. Do it all the time. Not proud of it, but not ashamed, either. You gotta do what you gotta do! ;D

  • Jennifer says:

    One of those ejection seats like fighter planes have? Yeah, that might work for drop-off.

    But if it were me, I’d use any excuse to buy malted milk balls.

  • jean says:

    Love that photo! I always hated getting my picture taken at school, too. But, I’d take a million of ’em if it included the prize of a yard o malted milk balls.

    Or, Clark bars…my other fave. Do they even make those any more??


  • Susan Kintner says:

    Ditto! mom
    In fact everyone deserves a reward.
    Life’s tender moments can be very
    tough. The good news is no one at her first job interview will ever ask Summer if she got her picture taken in pre-school.

  • Becky says:

    When the day comes that she doesn’t want you to walk her in, double your milk ball intake. My 9 and 8 year old are getting pretty close to that milestone – *sigh*

  • Marinka says:

    If you give me some candy, I won’t tell Dylan that she can hold out for a mile of gum next time. Nor that there is a store NAMED AFTER HER filled with candy.

  • Daphne says:

    I have never bought the cheesy posed stuffy school picture of my kids — you get the good stuff when they really are candid and happy. Just get the goofy class shot and memories are secured.

  • Megan says:

    So beautiful! I can finally drop Caitlin off in the “Kiss and Go” line. It helped to have a 1st grade friend in the car to help her, but you don’t have the car seat space do you?

  • Cat says:

    Your kids have been trained to be safe, now it may be time to start teaching critical thinking about risk factors. They seem like such good learners that this shouldn’t take long at all, don’t forget to do is practice the skills in front of them.

  • Ah parenting. Daily malt-ball sized reminders that we’ve birthed autonomous beings who WILL do as they see fit and as makes sense in their worlds. My 6 1/2 year old son still sleeps with his pacifier. And a blankie. And a stuffed giraffe. And a small stuffed bear from a San Francisco Giants game (pre-steroidal Beary Bonds) altho Daddy is a Mets fan. you know? in the long run? school pictures, locking your kids in the car (as long as it wasn’t moving, really, was that so bad?), promising gum as bribes? Meh. This too shall pass.
    Pass the Whoppers.

  • Anna says:

    i have a reluctant walker-into-school too, i usually lie in wait until she sees someone she knows then she’s willing to make a run for it! good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jennifer says:

    I’m with Becky! It’s hard when you are in the trenches to appreciate it – but my eleven year old is SO over me and it breaks my heart. Bring on the malt balls.

  • Cool Dad says:

    School picture day always caught me off guard as a kid, resulting in some incredibly awkward photos. Coincidentally, I never had a girlfriend growing up either. Hmm…

  • Slow Panic says:

    I feel your pain. My kids have had numerous neurosis (including the picture thing). On Friday my 8 year old totally freaked out in the school parking lot while we were waiting for his brother. A wasp flew in and out of the car window and he hopped out screaming and seriously I thought I was not going to get him back in the car to go home. It was a nightmare.

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kelcey kintner