1. Start by oversleeping.
2. Panic-run into the living room. Don’t worry, your child is already awake! He is wearing one sock and swim shorts while eating dry cereal, completely engrossed in a show that you would never admit he watches.
3. Suggest he get dressed.
4. Ask him to pause his show.
5. Suggest he get dressed.
6. Ask him to pause his show.
7. Suggest he get dressed.
8. “Oh my God PAUSE THE SHOW.”
9. Explain to him why he can’t wear shorts in February.
10. Go upstairs, grab the only shirt and pants he has approved this month.
11. Suggest he can finish watching his show if he puts on pants.
12. Leave to make his lunch as he screams that he HATES PANTS! HAAAATES PANTS!!! PANTS! HATE!
13. Return, and nod sympathetically. No one hates pants more than you right now.
14. Kneel down because the parenting book you’re reading told you to.
15. Say, “I hear that you hate pants, that you really really hate pants.”
16. Offer to help him. Offer to actually put the pants on for him while he continues watching the show.
17. Pat yourself on the back for this solution as your child throws all of the pillows from the couch on to the floor.
18. Check the clock.
19. Realize you’re already late.
20. Pick up the couch pillows as he takes off his underwear and sock.
21. Try not to lose it.
22. Tell your child he has to go to school, that he’s already late for school, that his friends just called to ask where he is. Add: they’re all wearing pants.
23. Give your child options. Either he can dress himself or you will dress him.
24. Count to three and then forcibly dress him as he screams that he’s NOT GOING TO BE ANYONE’S FRIEND TODAAAAAY.
25. Compose a short yet scathing review for the author of that parenting book.
26. Decide to abandon the socks, possibly all socks, forever.
27. Sandwich his remaining clothes under your arm and potato-sack him into the car.
28. Tell him he doesn’t have to buckle up, but the police will stop you and “who knows what will happen then.” Consider whether this threat constitutes bad parenting.
29. Decide you don’t care if it does.
30. Search the road for some sort of top-shelf construction-vehicle situation or anything, really, that will distract him from THIS LIFE.
31. Yelp with relief when two wild turkeys appear in the field to your right. Let a joyful wave of kid questions wash over you. Make up facts about turkeys. Smile into the rearview mirror.
32. Say, “I’m sorry I yelled, buddy.”
33. Nod sympathetically as he remembers he’s mad and reminds you that he’s not even going to be YOUR friend today!
34. Compose a short list of places you could move where parents don’t have to force kids to wear pants.
35. Pull into the school parking lot as he asks why he’s not wearing any shoes.
36. Help him put on his shoes.
37. Race him to the door.
38. Kneel down to help him take off his shoes as he yells “Hi, hi, hi!” to his sock-wearing friends.
39. Look him in his eyes while his couch-pillow-throwing arms wrap around you. Tell him you love him. Pause. Admit to him that you really, really hate pants too.
Illustration by James Bellizia