As I glanced in the rearview mirror at my son and daughter in the backseat, my mood quickly deflated from joyful anticipation to impatient frustration. I had just picked them up from their first day of kindergarten and third grade, but our reunion quickly left me disappointed. They had no sooner thrown their backpacks on the floorboard and climbed in their booster seats when simultaneous squabbling and whining commenced. Uncharacteristic sullenness settled in. Trying to find out how their first day went caused anxiety to their overstimulated, tired bodies.
I had pictured this moment all day—excited chatter about their teachers, classmates, lunch, and recess—everyone missing one another after our memory-making summer. Instead, they were two exhausted, cranky kids who just wanted some quiet and a snack. As hard as I tried, I deteriorated into “mom-mode.” Patient correction turned into a lecture and expressed disappointment. It wasn’t my finest hour, and our 3:15 pm reunion turned more sour than sweet.
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