Release Valves...And Cookie Comfort

Ever since Laurel started kindergarten I thought I had the sweet end of the deal. I do pick up and Jon does drop off, the latter of which -- for the first 6 weeks -- ranged from sobbing to worse sobbing and has since leveled off (though sometimes, especially on Mondays, tears and resistance periodically are involved). In short, I thought, "Lucky me! I get Laurel at the end of the day, when she's psyched to come home and it's all puppy dogs and unicorns!" So I thought.

Laurel is not a let-things-roll-off-her-back kind of kid. Though joyful and nonstop chatty in her comfort zone, when in unfamiliar territory she can be anxious and shy. And despite my continued encouragement for her to be creative, make huge messes, and be OK with making mistakes, Laurel seems to have inherited my perfectionist tendencies; I know she worries about making mistakes in kindergarten. She even said as much this past weekend. And I think it leaves her kind of clenched up during the school day.

So how does this relate to the pick up and drop off business? Well, I've always believed that kids let it all hang out with their parents (assuming it's a safe environment) because that's where they feel safe to do so. It's one reason why kids will be on good behavior for the sitter or grandparents then transform into hellcats as soon as they're back with you. And lately, for Laurel, this has translated into her picking fights with me as soon as I pick her up school. Actually, even worse, like yesterday, she'll be all lovey dovey towards other moms on the playground and then turns on me as soon as we're off school property. This doesn't happen every single day, but it has happened enough days over the last several weeks that it's starting to take its toll on me.

Sometimes my mojo is good and I can let it roll and ride it out, but yesterday I was floundering, frustrated, and sad in the face of this behavior. Intellectually, I know that this behavior is Laurel's release valve kicking in; she's dispelling the stress and anxiety that she's held tight to during the's (hopefully) not going to last forever. I know I shouldn't take it personally, but sometimes I can't help feeling a little pouty over the fact that I explicitly didn't opt for after school care so Laurel and I could have that time together in the afternoons (which means me catching up on client work in the wee hours). And I definitely feel bitter on the days where Laurel gets out all her foul mojo on me and then is happy and chipper by the time Jon gets home. And then there's generally feeling like a crap mom on the days where I can't let it roll off my back (like mother, like daughter apparently) and I stew. Or emotionally withdraw. Or both.

Yesterday afternoon I was feeling pretty sorry for myself (clearly I was in need of my own release valve in the form of a good cry or tantrum...); in Laurel's opinion everything I said or did was wrong or "inappropriate" (new favorite word). So around 4:30pm I turned to something that had to - for the love of crap! - be a surefire means to turn the crabby ship around: cookie baking.

For Laurel it worked like a charm, whether it was due to the physical exertion of mixing and dropping batter, the sweet and dizzying smell of the vanilla, or the anticipation or act of gobbling cookies. For me the effect was not so immediate (when I get a' festering it can take a while for me to untangle myself...), but admittedly, I did take at least a modicum of comfort in a fresh baked cookie.

Or six.

Similar to my beginning-of-the-year hope that by Halloween drop offs would smooth out, here's to hoping that by Christmas this grouchy pick up pattern will have run its course. I love cookies, but I suspect they will lose their luster if I have to eat them every day as a result of these shenanigans.