Village School

Parenting Toolbox

Asking for Help: My Newly Discovered Superpower 

By Matthew, Parent Education Trainer and Village School Parent

It was a typical morning, nothing out of the ordinary. Both my daughters were up and lazily moving through the morning regimen. I was droning on repeatedly with my typical interrogation techniques (very non-PD of me): “Did you eat your breakfast?” “Did you brush your teeth?” “Did you comb your hair?” Each question was met with an indifferent stare or a mumbled “No.”

Situation normal, all fairly uneventful.

When the clock hit 8:00, the pace of things started to miraculously quicken — my children have natural instincts for knowing when the game of chicken must end. By 8:05 things were looking good. Teeth were being brushed, hair being combed, and my older one had even started looking for a pair of socks! This rocket ship had main engine’s “go” and would be leaving the launch pad into our daily orbit soon.

Then a glitch! My little one was in her room with no pants on!

“Houston, we have a problem…”

My first thought was, “Be cool, we’ve been here before, this is a simple wardrobe audible. We’ll have this sorted out in minutes.” If there’s one thing I have learned in the last seven years of parenting, it’s to choose your battles. A child wanting a change in clothes at the last minute is not something I want to go to the mat for. So I calmly told her it’s fine to find something else to wear. I then left her room to finalize the backpack/ lunchbox check.

Ever the optimist, I walked out to the vehicle thinking everything was still on track. This view was validated when I saw my older one sitting in the car, buckled up, smiling and ready to go. This was almost too easy— all that was left was to go in and collect the little one and head off to school.

But heading back into the house I heard whining and crying. My little one (still pantless) was fighting with my wife. The argument had changed from wanting to change her clothes to not wanting to go to school. Remember that part about picking your battles? Well, it looked like we needed to battle! On a parenting difficulty scale of 1–10, the morning had gone from level 1 to 3 in a matter of seconds.

I can’t offer a play by play of what happened over the next ten minutes. It was a heat of the moment situation. But here are the highlights:

  • Little one locked herself in her room not once, not twice, but three times
  • Wife decided to drive the older one to school
  • I took away TV privileges from little one for two weeks just to get her in her pants
  • Little one refused to put on shoes
  • Drove to Village with little one kicking the back of my seat the whole way
  • After parking, I carried her kicking and screaming to the street corner of Parr and Vale

By this point the difficulty level had risen from a 3 to an 11 (yes, the scale is 1 to 10, but this one goes to 11…) As I carried my child to school kicking, screaming, and trying to wiggle her way out of my arms, a few Village parents asked, “Do you need help?”

This is where things got a bit tricky…

Accepting help is not something that comes easy for me. I’m not sure why. Maybe the testosterone pulsing through me has short-circuited any thoughts that asking for or accepting help would be in my best interest. Perhaps it’s the upbringing I received, which has instilled a strong sense of “don’t be a bother.” I take whatever confusion or helplessness I may be feeling and stuff it deep down inside, never to be seen, never to be acknowledged. Or it could be the result of twenty years of working IT/Tech support roles. I’m used to people coming to me for help, not the other way around. By the way, am I correct in thinking children really should have been designed with a “power off” or “reboot” button?

Whatever the case may be, I’ve had a lifelong unconscious habit of saying, “No, I’m fine,” when offered a helping hand. However, on this day, rather than saying “No, I got this,” I decided to allow a “Yes, I could use a hand.” I was so shocked by the words coming out of my mouth, I actually felt like I should apologize for accepting help from Bev and Hillary.

I think the main reason I said yes was the internal sense that I did not have a handle on the situation. I was playing a game of logic, reason, and responsibility, while my five year old was playing a completely different game, a game that I did not understand. Not only was I playing a game on my child’s terms, I was also losing. Big time.

Eventually I did have to carry her into the main office and have Becky help her calm down (and dismiss me from the scene). As I came out of the office, I was met by Bev and Hillary. We had a quick catch up and shared our parenting war stories. It was a nice way to debrief/ decompress from the bruising morning.

As a new member to the Parent Ed. team, it struck me that I probably should have had a solution to the seemingly simple problem of getting an unwilling child to school. But I didn’t have the solution, and more importantly I don’t know that I will have a solution even after dozens of years of parenthood experiences. It’s because of this that I’m grateful I was offered help from other Village parents. I came to the realization that asking for (or accepting) help from fellow parents is the reason we are all here.

Follow up

Having discovered this new ability to ask for help, the following week I asked my little one if she could help me. I told her I have to be at work on time and that I needed her help. I needed her to be ready by 8:05. She was very receptive to my request and was so fast at her morning routine that she had an extra 10 minutes to play before we got into the car. Unbelievable. I’m going to get used to this newfound superpower.