Posted by Uncle Jesse
Getting ready for school is not the easiest thing for the Tanner family, though I suspect it’s not any more or less of a hassle for us than it is for others. DJ is generally pretty efficient and autonomous. Stephanie tends to drag her feet a bit, but for the most part is good-natured and usually remembers what she needs for the day’s activities (though the addition of earrings to the equation has been a bit of an adjustment). And the “wild card” of most mornings is Michelle. One morning she may traipse down the steps before the other two, singing out loud and making jokes about my outfit. The next day, she might have a meltdown over her ribbon not matching her shoes. It is impossible to guess which it will be, but not very difficult to discern once you see her morning face.
One morning recently, Danny had an early meeting so the morning rush was a solo job for me. Our big task for the morning was having to transport Michelle’s class project, a giraffe in its habitat, to school. It happened to coincide with a Tuesday, which meant we also had to get piano books. And it was cold, so coats and gloves were a last minute addition as well. All of this was proving too much for Michelle, who in addition to being a little frazzled was also not thrilled about how the giraffe was looking. The other girls tried to help.
“It looks great!” said DJ.
“I’ll grab your piano books,” offered Stephanie, often a very helpful, selfless child.
But while minor problems could be fixed, Michelle had seemingly decided this was just not going to be a good morning.
“It’s falling apaaaart,” she whined, almost on the verge of tears.
“The giraffe is just heavy,” DJ countered. “You can re-assemble it once we’re there and it will be fine.” It was at least enough to get us out the door. But two turns into the drive to school, Michelle had found another thing wrong:
“It doesn’t have any rocks! It’s supposed to have rocks because I said in the report…” and the rest was hard to make out because the tears had started in earnest.
“We can find rocks at school, I promise,” I told her. “We’ll find some.”
“But…” She continued to cry.
Though my play here is typically to brush off seemingly major issues as minor ones, and though I knew it would not be difficult to add some rocks once we got to school, I made an astute assessment. This was not about rocks. This was about changing the direction of the morning, and it needed to be done before we arrived at school.
When we arrived at the next stop sign I braked a little harder than normal and threw my sister’s minivan into park. The crying stopped briefly and the other two paused, not sure what I was doing. Truth be told, I think they all thought I was about to turn around and tell Michelle to suck it up and quit crying (and truth be told, I had considered–it would have been justified).
Then, with an air of mystery, I got out of the car, left it running, walked the few steps to the small park we were passing and picked up a few rocks. Seconds later I was back in the car, and as I placed them gently next to the giraffe, with a smile and a tone that suggested I had no idea Michelle had even started crying I said simply, “See? Rocks are everywhere. No biggie.”
Like a prince’s kiss, the spell was broken and the evil morning mood was lifted, and Michelle and the giraffe lived happily ever after, rocks and all.