My daughter is a rebel.
Not in a negative sense that she has a bad attitude or challenges authority. She’s only five years old. She doesn’t like doing what everyone does, and she needs the freedom to express and explore that.
I came to this realization this year. She started kindergarten. At the first parent meeting, we learned about CAR-LINE and the rules of CAR-LINE. Learning about CAR-LINE and actually experiencing CAR-LINE are two completely different things. On my first trip in CAR-LINE, I needed to arrive at the school over an hour earlier to make sure I was at the beginning of CAR-LINE.
Otherwise, I would be waiting in line for over 20 minutes to pick up my daughter because that’s how long it takes if you are late. If you take too long in CAR-LINE, both parents and administrators will make sure to let you know. “GO, GO, GO!” by the administrators is my favorite.
Morning drop-offs in CAR-LINE are much easier. You just need to pull your car up to the school, and your child needs to get out of the car in a timely fashion. Wave goodbye and your child should walk to the school by themselves. After the first few days, my daughter would continue to hesitate for very simple reasons. She was new to kindergarten and not quite ready to go by herself, and it is pretty challenging for any 5-year-old to get a car harness off themselves, without the aid of the parent. Oh yes, I forgot to mention, parents need to stay in their seats so they can pull away once the child is clear. My daughter would get out of the car, and then stop, because of nerves and she wanted her dad to give her just one more hug. That isn’t too much for a 5-year-old to ask, is it?
Unfortunately, daddy couldn’t accommodate because the cars in CAR-LINE weren’t sympathetic to our plight. They were sure to beep as a reminder. I didn’t want to be one of those parents in the following Seattle mom’s rant on YouTube video picked up by BUZZFEED:
I would have to urge my daughter into the school through the rolled down window and drive off frustrated.
Finally, one day, I asked my daughter, “Do you want to just park the car and walk to school?” She paused, and said “Yes!”
Because of CAR-LINE, we could not park near the school. Instead, we would have to park about over 200 yards away. We could easily just drive in CAR-LINE where she could get out herself, but we decided that the three of us (my 3-year-old included) would take the extra 5 to 10 minutes to walk to the school. The first time we did this, my daughter gave both her sister and me a huge hug, cracked a joke, and she happily bounded into the school. What made this different? It was on her terms.
The Process Communication Model teaches us that children establish their personality structure by the time they are seven. Every person’s personality structure is made up of six floors – THINKER, PERSISTER, HARMONIZER, PROMOTER, REBEL, and IMAGINER. Each personality structure is a different combination of “floors”, and they are wide or narrow based on how much time we spend on those floors (life experience). My daughter is still establishing who she is and what makes her confident in herself. It is up to me as her parent to recognize what makes her tick and not necessarily push her into what I believe she needs to be doing.
I believe my daughter has strong REBEL tendencies because she understands that she has to go to school. She doesn’t hate school. She loves school. She just hates that she has to be put in a stressful situation to go there.
It was stressful for me too.
I am a base PERSISTER, which means I believe it is important to follow rules. My wide base PERSISTER floor clearly understands the rules of CAR-LINE (as strict as they are) and they appeal to me because they come from an established institution. Just tell me what to do and I will follow it to the letter of the law.
You can see how there could be issues.
I could force my daughter to follow the rules and make her understand why they needed to be followed. Or I could give up five minutes of my day to allow her to follow the rules under her terms.
Learning to Process
Avoiding CAR-LINE has now become time alone I get to share with my daughters. My 5-year-old can stall as long as she wants to before she enters the school, or not at all (if she sees a friend she wants to run into the school with). Sometimes, we actually get the school at the same time as the cars that line up in CAR-LINE. It has become sort of a game. Wondering if we are going to beat the cars to the school, or in some cases, she gets to see her friends as they make funny faces or scream to us out the window. These are things that make her happy and are fun, so following the rules isn’t so bad. It has become fun for both of us.
“I do a great impression of a hot dog.”
Rebels need playful interaction. It sets their minds at ease.
For my 3-year-old, the walk has become a time and memory for her. Our rule is that she must walk with her sister and me to the school, but on the way back daddy will carry her. I know that she can make the round-trip herself, but she is only going to be our baby for a few more years. My 3-year-old loves to hug and show affection. She is has established herself as an early HARMONIZER because the experience is about being with her sister and her dad. She is happy to be included and she understands how important it is to her sister. Every time I pick her up in my arms, she gives me a big kiss and says, “I love you.” It is a moment alone for both of us. Harmonizers value comfort and express themselves through feelings.
“It’s like spooning a warm marshmallow!”
Moral of the Story
For us, these moments can’t be created sitting in the car, watching the DVD player, and listening to sports talk radio. No conference call is more interesting than the wonder of my 3-year-old when she looks up at the sky and sees the geese flying in a “V” formation and says, “Beautiful!”
No training session or workout can out-do the laughs that emulate from carrying her 30 lbs to the car, trying to avoid the rain.
It will be something that both my girls will remember as they grow up; dad took the extra time to make sure we got to school safe.
It has made a change in me as well. As a Persister, I have had to shift my own beliefs in allowing this to happen. I can write down many different physical reasons for why walking my daughter to school is important:
- The Washington Post published an article on hazards of sitting: https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/national/the-health-hazards-of-sitting/750/
- Walking and carrying something (my daughter) prevents bone loss and may promote bone growth.
- Walking releases natural endorphins, one of the benefits of exercises. Add in a 3 and 5-year-old and you have a comedy tour.
- It is good exercise; one step closer to 10,000 steps per day.
- The rate of oxygen consumption versus the energy expended multiplied by the mass of the three of us…………….
Or how about just this:
The real change was accepting the change in me.
It is five minutes during my day where I am truly happy.
That’s enough for me.
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