It took me 30 minutes to drop Ian off at school yesterday morning. More specifically, it took me 30 minutes to put him into his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume and peel him off of me so I could exit while he screamed "MOMMMMMYYYYYYY!" through sobs. When Rich asked how it went, my only explanation was it was a fucking disaster. Through a mixup at school, they told us to bring his costume versus arrive with it on him. As I tried to get his costume on him when we got there, Ian realized as soon as I got the costume on him, I was leaving. So it was back and forth for forever all amongst these tearful protests of "let's just go home, Mommy. I wanna go home with you Mommy and snuggle. I don't wanna go to school."
Meanwhile every little girl in the class - Jasmine and a black kitty and Belle and Little Red Riding Hood - all stood around us and asked with concern, "why don't you want to be a ninja turtle, Ian?" (Fascinatingly, Spiderman and Captain America and the Washington Redskin were not worried at all. Sometimes boys are dense.) So the kitty and I did our best to come up with ways to get Ian into his costume.
"Maybe we can ask the teacher, Ian's mommy?" "Maybe he will put on his shell." "Ian, we can't get candy if you don't put your costume on. I have my costume on."
It was equally frustrating and adorable.
I cried at work and lamented how my kid can be so stressed out and I can't seem to keep him from fretting any more than I can keep Rich from fretting. Part of Ian's anxiety about school drop off is just typical three year old stuff. But I think part of it is him picking up on the general angst level in the house. He doesn't want to let either of us out of his sight, particularly me. Rich is in a heightened state of distress these days so he's not able to handle the sobs of "don't go!" very well. So we're on this emotional roller coaster and I'm trying to cover people's eyes and sing happy songs to keep them from worrying about the big drop coming up ahead. But it's more like the log flume ride where we can all climb in together but I'm trying to calculate who should sit where so no one gets scared and no one gets soaked.
I waited breathlessly for Ian and Rich to come home so we could see how his day went and if we could enjoy some trick or treating. Ian bounced in the house, rambling about how great trick or treating was and how he loved his costume. He agreed to sit and eat dinner with us and complimented my corn bread as he crumbled it into his chili. As the first trick or treaters arrived at our door, he rushed up to see their costumes and process the routine.
And then we went out on the town. He was awesome. He raced up to doors and yelled "Happy Halloween!" at little old ladies who cooed over him. As we walked away from front porches he would call back "Bye bye! We'll see you later! Thanks for all the candy!" Before the end of our street, he had figured out the routine and was directing which house we should try next.
We made it home once Ian declared he was tired (a statement virtually unheard of in the three year old world) and his bucket of candy was too heavy. We picked out a few treats to eat while he watched an episode of WonderPets and then he voluntarily went upstairs. His only request was to sleep in his costume (including the shell) which we happily obliged. I don't think it's still considered SIDS anymore if your three year old strangles himself on his ninja turtle sash, but we managed to avoid any injury.
He was asleep within two minutes of his head hitting the pillow. It made me wish we could do Halloween every night!
In one short day I experienced some of the best and worst things about parenting a three year old. My heart goes out to him when he's upset and believe me, I'd love to spend all day snuggling versus going to work while he is at school, but that's not practical. Thankfully, my heart can fill up on all the joy he had last night seeing other kids in costume and chatting with neighbors and hauling a giant plastic pumpkin of loot home. And hopefully soon, we can move on to a different ride for a little while.