I sent my daughter to school wearing her pajamas.

My energetic eight-year-old middle child, Olivia, has suddenly declared war on getting ready for school. The previous evening, when I laid out all the clothes she refused to wear, it reached new heights. And now here I am, wondering, “Is it too early for this?” as I stand in the kitchen with my coffee in hand.

And there I was, a parent looking forward to his morning’s triumph. When I entered Olivia’s room and saw her assortment of strange pajamas, I reasoned, “Why not?” “Hey, Liv, what if we shake things up a bit and go to school in those snazzy PJs of yours?” I quietly dropped the bombshell the following morning.

Her eyes brightened, and we quickly made a morning agreement. The twist is that things didn’t go as expected. Olivia got into the car and we drove away, her pajamas decorated with unicorns. There was an uneasy silence in place of the usual morning banter. I observed the wheels moving in her tiny head as she pondered whether she had reached the twilight of motherhood.

Reality struck us hard as soon as we got to the school. Olivia was second-guessing her choice of outfit now. “Can we go back, Dad?””I want to change,” she exclaimed, appearing to be under stress. I refused to back down, determined to give her a lesson in choices. “We’re committed to the PJs today, kiddo. Sorry.”

My spouse became aware of it. Though it was inevitable, I had anticipated a more encouraging response. Time travel to the evening, then turn on the dramatic soundtrack. As soon as my wife Emily entered the room and saw Olivia, the air became cold.

Later, Emily opened her mind in the quiet haven of our living room. Jake, really? Pajamas for school? We appear to be hopeless parents. I made a strong argument, stating that it was a one-day experiment and a practical lesson in making decisions. Emily, though, would not have it. She said, “You embarrassed her.” As the discussion went on, I started to question the wisdom of my early insight.

The really good part is here. What do you think, parents? Have you ever acted carelessly in an attempt to win in the morning? Was I an idiot or a great father? Tell your stories; after all, parenthood is a crazy journey, and sometimes all you need is to compare notes on the everyday craziness we face in the real world.

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