I’ve always been a stickler for time. My family can attest to the fact that if I give you a time I’m going to abide by it. My productions, the programs I manage, anything I’m in charge of, I can guarantee will start on time…by any means necessary.
My children, however, have made it their business to challenge my ability to begin things on time. No matter how great my math, someone was going to lose a shoe, someone was going to misplace a sock, someone was going to break a hair tie, which used to send me into a “Flight of the Bumblebee” type of rush—it used to.
Not too long after I discovered I wasn’t Superwoman, I was sitting in carline, early, to pick up my kids from school. Not a few feet away, I saw another mom feverishly tapping her wheel and obsessively glancing at her watch. The action was odd to me for two reasons: 1) School hadn’t dismissed yet, and 2) She had “prime position” in line because her section was going to be able to start pickup first. Finally, when children began to filter outside, the cutest little girl came bolting through her classmates and b-lined for her mother’s car. Although the adult monitors yelled for her not to run, the frantic ‘arm-beckoning’ of the young girl’s mother encouraged her otherwise. She hopped in the car, and mom peeled off.
“Must be an appointment,” I thought. I eventually dismissed the whole ordeal when my kids got in the car raving about their day.
The next day, almost the exact same thing happened. Mom was upset and rushing, daughter bolted out of the school, mom rushed daughter to the car, then peeled off.
And then it happened the next day.
And the next day.
And the day after that.
Sometimes, the little girl’s hands would be so full she would barely make it to the car without dropping something. Other days, she wasn’t so lucky. On all occasions, mom would be completely undone that she had to wait longer, and would peel off. It was their routine.
On a particular day, one out of character for the school, the kids were released later than usual; and I happened to be directly behind “time cop mom.” I could see in her rearview mirror that this delay was surely causing the end of the world. By the time the kids came out, her daughter was having such an unorganized day that it prompted the mom to yell “C’mon!” out of the car window. The peel off was interrupted by an awkward traffic jam created by a school bus…I literally thought the mom’s head would explode. She put her hands up in the air and slammed her hands on the steering wheel in frustration. All the while, her daughter was struggling to buckle her seatbelt in the backseat.
What was so important that she had to rush her daughter like this? Why was the mild inconvenience of getting out of the parking lot causing such a huge catastrophe in their lives? How come she was ok with her daughter being exasperated about getting to the car and not giving her enough time to buckle her seatbelt?
“Relax, lady,” I said out loud. “It’s just carline!”
And then I realized…I probably seemed like this to my kids. I never treated carline that way because, by the time I get there, I’ve completed a lot things I have to do for the day.
But I was stickler about being on time for athletics.
And I was a stickler about being on time for church.
And I was a stickler about being on time for haircuts, leaving for trips, or dinner at their grandparents’ house.
No, I wasn’t like that about carline…but I was “carlining” the rest of their lives. And that’s when it hit me:
It’s just not that deep.
I try to teach my kids to be on time for things because when you’re on other people’s time, you can’t return it to them if you waste it. However, I realized that being a minute or two late is not going to end the world. And yelling at children to hurry up doesn’t do anything but frustrate everyone.
I’m still a stickler about time, but to keep from rushing my kids, we just start earlier.
And if that doesn’t work? (shrug) We’ll try again tomorrow.
Relax, it’s just carline.
You know I’m right.