My daughter has no sense of urgency, and this trait is amplified tenfold when we are running late. Sometimes it seems as if she transforms into Flash from Zootopia (assuming he isn’t in his sports car) whenever we need her to hurry up.
One morning last week, I was running particularly late. I don’t normally have a problem with oversleeping, but it was my birthday and I hit the snooze button a couple of extra times. After all, I deserved it, right? Unfortunately, my wife was off that day and she also hit the snooze button a few extra times, so in addition to being behind getting myself ready, we were also behind schedule getting my daughter ready.
My boss had told me the day before that our District Manager (his boss) would be visiting the store that day, and that he would want to visit with me some to get a feel for how some operational changes had been going. It’s no big deal to meet with my DM, but there is a desire there to always make a good impression. Running behind on a day like this adds a little extra stress to the equation.
As I was getting close to being ready to go, I noticed that my daughter was still sitting in the Living Room eating her breakfast. She was watching a cartoon while she ate her breakfast, and there were minutes between bites as she got sucked into the program she was watching.
Just as I was about to ask her to finish up quickly, my phone rang. My boss was calling and wanted to know if I was at the store yet. I wasn’t late at this point, but I definitely should have been well on my way in by now, and I still needed to drop my daughter off at daycare.
“No sir, not yet.”
“Okay, can you do me a favor? Can you swing by Starbucks and pick up my mobile order on your way in?”
“Yes sir, no problem.”
I immediately turned off the television, told her in an impatient voice (without giving her an opportunity to complain that I had just turned her show off with no warning) that we were running late, and asked her to hurry up and finish eating so we could brush her teeth.
At the time, her reaction was extremely frustrating to me. She curled back defensively, whined at me that she didn’t want to brush her teeth, and refused to get out of the chair. As I pushed the issue, with more urgency in my voice, she resisted harder. We were on the verge of a clash of wills when my calm and collected wife pulled our daughter aside, convinced her to go potty and brush her teeth, and helped me get her loaded into the car.
On the way to daycare, my daughter didn’t talk to me too much. I apologized for being short with her and asked her to please have a good day, promising that we would do something fun that evening to celebrate my birthday. She agreed, but still didn’t seem like she was in the best mood to start her day.
I left the daycare, picked up the Starbucks (I re-ordered it since the mobile order had gone in almost an hour earlier) and headed to the store. The day went fine, I was really only a few minutes late, and I had allowed myself to be stressed out for no good reason. More importantly, though, I treated my daughter very unfairly. At this point in her life, we have not started working on her waking up on her own. She depends on us to wake her up when it is time and help her get ready.
She seems to become more independent every day, but we were running behind because my wife and I both slept in longer than we intended to, not because of something she had done. Instead of approaching it by telling her that I had made a mistake and because of that we needed to hurry, I turned her TV show off without warning and started talking to her as if she had done something wrong. No wonder she was acting defensively, I would have been too.
When this happens again, and it certainly will, I am going to remember how I reacted last time and I am going to do better. I will explain the situation calmly and ask for her help and cooperation so that we can get where we need to go on time rather than demanding it. I will also spend time between now and then helping her understand why it is important to arrive at places on time and what sorts of consequences there might be when we don’t.
Has this sort of thing ever happened with your kids? How do you handle it? How have you taught your kids to show urgency when needed? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!