I had always lived in Vancouver, was going to be working downtown, and hated commuting. This made made Vancouver the most logical choice in my mind. Dave, on the other hand, hated Vancouver, had only felt at home in North Vancouver, and didn’t think a 45 minute commute each way was a big deal. And so the battle began.
I ultimately agreed to settle in North Vancouver with the understanding that Dave and Maya would drop me off at the sea bus and pick me up, to at least make my commute bearable. It is about a 10 minute car ride to the sea bus terminal, then 15 minutes across and a 15 minute walk to work. It would increase by over a half hour if if I had to bus and walk to and from the terminal. I had tried that once, to take the bus home from the sea bus terminal. It was, to put it lightly, a disaster, and proof that I am directionally impaired. I didn’t realize that the routes changed after a certain time. My confusion as to why everything was looking more and more unfamiliar prompted me to ask the bus driver where I in fact, was. He let me off immediately and pointed north. This did not seem right. After 15 minutes trudging north, I realized it definitely was not right (with a little help from my Smartphone). Forty-five minutes later I limped, in seething silence, through the door.
I had worn new shoes, as my new job required a professional wardrobe that I did not yet own. I had purposefully taken that specific bus to lessen the distance my poor squished feet would be required to walk. I vowed that I would never take that f&*&king bus again!
Our mornings, as we rush to get ready to drop mommy off, are a bit hectic to say the least. We try to let Maya sleep in as late as we can and still get out the door by 7:45 a.m. Prior to waking her, Dave and I enjoy a coffee or two, if we’re lucky, in peace. It is our only bit of peace together for the most part. I cherish those moments (aside from the times I want to throw Dave’s phone in the toilet). The problem with our carefully structured timing, however, is that it doesn’t allow for one minute of deviation. If Maya, for instance, decides she is going to go poo poo on the potty, which can take quite awhile depending on how many songs she will sing whilst on her throne, we have to do some major catch up to get out of the door.
Maya has taken to prolonging things she hates to do. She loves almost everything, but avoids the routine, mundane things that most of us don’t enjoy, but have to do nonetheless. Like going to bed. Or driving mommy to work. At night it’s things like brushing her teeth, flossing her teeth, blow drying and combing her hair, and getting her pajamas on. Her favourite prolonging the inevitable tactic is to run throughout the house stark naked singing at the top of her lungs or squealing in delight and then hiding behind the curtains in our living room. The routine is that she will stick her legs out from under the curtain. I will happen upon them. I will remark “Oh my goodness what are these legs doing here? I wonder whose legs they are? These toes look like Maya toes. Do they taste like Maya toes? Do these knees tickle like Maya knees? I think I’ve found a Maya!” as I pull back the curtain and she squeals with delight.
This darting off routine will happen during every transition: from bath to getting dried off; getting dry to getting pajamas on; getting pajamas on to drying hair etc. etc. When she dilly dallies at night, really the worst that happens is she gets one less bed time story, or goes to bed a bit later than normal. So I indulge her. But now these routines are showing up all over the place. When we get home and get out of the car, she now has to climb into the front seat, look into the passenger mirror on the visor and yell some strange and angry language into it, then climb over to the driver’s side and do the same thing to that mirror. If she doesn’t get a chance to do this routine there will be wailing. And it will be loud.
These delaying routines have now started to leak into our morning routines. This is not good. Most of the time in our dealings with her running away stark naked routine at night, Dave and I are a version of our “best parent selves”; we use humour, creativity, encouragement, singing, games etc. to get her to move it along. Occasionally, if she is being especially naughty, we try to discipline her. Ha! We tried time outs in her crib a couple of times. We diligently and with Very Serious Expressions took out all of her toys, blankets and pillows and told her she would have to stay in the crib for 3 minutes. She LOVED it. Whenever she did something naughty she would ask excitedly “Do I get a time out?” The only “threat” that has even remotely worked was taking away tomorrow’s cherished time with Dora the Explorer. I am a firm believer in picking one’s battles, and picking them wisely. Dave often calls this indulging, but I swear that if we measured our sanity levels, mine would be in the moderately sane range. And his? I won’t contemplate as he will likely read this. In the mornings, however, we are not any version of our Best Parent Selves. There is no time for that parent. We rely totally on the “Maya get over here and get your shoes on! We don’t have time for this!” parent.
This morning, a Monday and my first back to work day, Maya’s nightly procrastination routine leaked into the morning. It was one of those days where the minutes slipped by so imperceptibly that I would almost swear I had had a mini stroke that impaired my ability to assess time. We were late. And Maya only wanted to wear her brand new pink long underwear, which were covered in hot chocolate from the night before as she tried to drink it from a mug all by herself. Then her purple underwear was nowhere to be found, nor were any purple clothes (they all being in the wash that I had forgotten to do over the weekend). This is close to a Very Big Disaster in her mind as she LOVES LOVES LOVES purple. At first she had worn all shades of purple, meaning I had 4 pairs of tights to choose from, but this has suddenly changed and now light purple will not do.
We finally got her dressed and at the front door to put her boots on when she sprinted down the hall gleefully running away. This led to tears as Dave caught up to her and carried her back. Our rushing didn’t even help. I missed the sea bus by about 30 seconds.
My conclusion is that my hate of commuting has to balance with the facts. Fact one is that Dave and I are hopelessly disorganized and will never be the kind of parents who prepare lunches the day before, or have the coffee all ready to go the night before, or who even know where their clothes are, let alone what they are going to wear that day. Fact two is that we have a 2 1/2 year old, who loves to play. I don’t want the few moments I share with her in the morning to be battles. The new plan? A compromise. I’ll take the bus on the days they have pre-school and they will continue to pick me up at night. And I won’t secretly look at apartments in Vancouver. North Van, even with the crappy commute, is a good place to live.