Punctuality. Punctuality used to stick by me more often than it does since I've become "keeper of all things and knower of all things", or more simply, mom.
I was never as late as often as I am now when it was just me. Aaaaaaah...just uttering those words "just me" makes me think of a day when I could grab my keys and get in the car and go, anywhere, without beverages, entertainment and snacks. The only time I needed accoutrements such as that, I would've been travelling a very long distance, or boarding a flight somewhere exotic (you know, because I did that soooo often before life with children).
Anyway, I've become one of those people, always running a few minutes behind, always hurried to make it out the door, yelling words of "have you got your coat?" and "where are your shoes?" at my kids as they hang precariously to the door handle while I'm backing out of the driveway.
Okay, it isn't THAT bad. Only some of the time. I have gotten better, in my old age, with my time management skills.
I no longer give specific times to be somewhere, I now say I'll be there at "whatever-ISH" so that I will not be late. It is a running joke amungst my friends to tell me to be somewhere sooner than everyone else because that way, we'll all get to where we are going ON TIME.
That being said, my kids have never been late to school, I have never missed a doctor's appointment or teacher conference. I leave early to get to scheduled activities and sometimes we even have to hang out in the car before a soccer game and wait for the coach. I have come a long way since the days of "tell Carrie to arrive 30 minutes before everyone else". But it has not been a journey free of consequences.
In my wake, I have created a time conscious (obsessed), clock-staring, "hurry up let's go" child. He is nine. He likes to ask me what time everything is. When times change, like his taekwondo schedule did come the first of the year, he comes unglued.
It was the first night of class after the schedule change in January. Instead of rushing like crazy people immediately after school to make it to a 4:00 class, our time had been moved to 6:00; just enought time to wolf down a meal beforehand. On the days Brett is on shift, we all go to watch McRae practice, this was one of those days. It was 5:11, it takes no more than 15 minutes to get to taekwondo, but we give ourselves 20, just in case. McRae starts jumping around the kitchen as his brother and sister are finishing their meal and I am loading what I can into the dishwasher.
"Come on mom, we have to be going", he says.
"Don't worry, it isn't time yet", I answer.
"We're going to be late."
"No we aren't, relax, will ya?"
"I don't want to be late."
"You won't be late, calm down."
I finish the dishes and begin to help Katie into her coat.
"Hurry up", McRae yells from the garage (because he's already gotten in the car and is convinced we are going to be late). I look at the clock, it isn't even 5:30, we have more than enough time, unless there is a parade of elephants in town that I don't know about.
After a few minutes, we all gather in our respective spots in the car. McRae won't even look at me. It is 5:41 and we are already out on the highway, well on our way to class. I tell him "Honey, you dont' need to worry so much about being places on time, that's my job and we've never been late to taekwondo, so I don't know what you're so mad about".
He just stares out the window.
I turn on the radio, because if anything drives me crazy, it's a silent car with a pouting 4th grader.
As I may have mentioned before, I hate commercials and talking on the radio, so I will scan the stations until I find an acceptable song, no matter what it is. "Low Rider" by War was on one of the stations, I left it there and turned it up a little so I could sing along. I could see a little blonde head-bobbing happening in my peripheral vision, belonging to my oldest. I glanced in his direction and he immediately stopped, as if caught committing a felony. I started whistling to the parts of the song we all know are whistle-able, I was joined by a faint, yet audible, whistle coming from the passenger seat next to me.
The light was red, it was 5:50. A smile spread across his face as he realized that he would not be late after all and the song was over...but wait! A new song began and lo and behold, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" became the soundtrack for the remaining 3 miles to get to taekwondo class, complete with head jerking (by all three kids and myself - yes, I was being a safe driver of course), shoulder wiggling and clapping (like in the video).
If we could dance in the car we would have. If there was a hidden camera in our car, we surely would've won some kind of prize (like a years' supply of toilet paper), but that doesn't matter. What matters is that my son got over his obesssion with the clock, and being the time manager for our family, laughed at his crazy mom and loosened up a bit before running into the taekwondo studio (5 minutes early) to claim his spot on the mat in the front row, as he watched all the "late" kids file in behind him.