This morning was busy. Although I got up early for a head start, we were still running behind, struggling to get out the door on time. We made it to the car just in time, only to need to go back inside to change a surprise dirty diaper.
As we finally left the driveway, I was taking a deep breath to compose myself as our son vocalized what I was already saying in my head…“Hurry mommy, we’re going to be late!“
Then, he turned to his sister, “Baby, you maybe made us late”. Uh oh.
While I didn’t use the words ‘hurry up’, he picked up on my impatient rushing as I demanded they put on their shoes and coat now. Plus, I’ve told him ‘we’re going to be late’ or to ‘hurry up’ plenty of times. An ongoing pattern.
Sigh…while its one thing for him to tell me to hurry, I don’t want him blaming his sister. Wonder where he learned that? While I have been careful not to say a person made us late, I have been guilty of blaming something – You know, we’re late because of that lost shoe, temper tantrum, or…problem. Not surprising he was perceptive enough to translate that as blaming the person.
Yep. Nothing like my own hurried, careless words being repeated by our child to stop me in my tracks.
Perhaps rushing around like a crazy lady morning after morning isn’t doing any of us any good.
I’ve been thinking about what I’ve really been teaching them with this pattern of impatient rushing. I often excuse the craziness of getting out the door by telling myself that being on time is a necessary life skill – And it is, but not like this.
I do want them to learn to be on time and respect the time of others. But I really want them to learn how to be on time without rushing, which requires preparation, flexibility, and grace. Even if we need to hurry once in a while, it can be done without barking demands. And, sometimes, unexpected things happen – it is ok to be a little late.
In truth, it is better to be late and not be a big ball of stress with two cranky kids in tow when we get there (you’d be cranky too if you were rushed into the car by an impatient mama!).
What is the point of being on time if you’ve exasperated yourself and those around you in the process? While I’ve heard the phrase “timeliness is next to godliness“, I’m pretty sure God is appalled by the rushed methods employed by many parents as we force our kids out the door.
While I may be reinforcing the importance of being on time, there is much more they are learning from my hurry – and most of it is unimpressive.
What My Impatience Teaches Our Kids As I Rush Them Out The Door:
- Their last-minute (albeit important) need is a hassle – they may even feel they, themselves are a hassle. I should be grateful we had the chance to change that diaper BEFORE we left, even if it means removing her coat, hat, mittens and boots, and putting them all on again (yes, it is snowing in April in MN)
- Being too busy is OK, and a way of life – is this how I want them to treat their families when they grow up?
- Being late is an excuse to forego kindness and gentleness – we taught Ephesians 4:32 to our son and often talk about being kind to others. As I hurry him along, sighing and making demands, I’m a hypocrite, undermining my own efforts. Of course he will turn around and do the same to his sister – he learned it from his mama!
- Being on-time in tears, angry, or frazzled is better than being late – nothing like a stressed out, tearful family, on-time on to church…because that will get them in the mood to worship the Lord (note the sarcasm)
- What’s next is more important than right now – There is nothing wrong with purposeful preparation, but worrying is a whole different thing. They will never learn to just be if I’m impatient to move on to the next thing or how what we are doing now is taking too long
- Being on-time is more important than pausing to help them learn – to zip their coat, tie their shoe, answer a question
- Getting ready to go isn’t fun – if it always ends with an exasperated mama or daddy, or kids in tears…I would drag my feet too
- Everything must be done quickly – we don’t have time to appreciate details, make observations or ask questions. Oh, the teachable moments I am missing!
- A schedule is more important than what they are doing now
- They slow me down – I never want them to think I’d rather they weren’t with me so I could go faster, but sometimes my words or actions may communicate exactly that. Ouch.
- In a hurry, their feelings don’t matter – ever tell your child you don’t have time for their meltdown? Sadly, I have, even when it was fueled by my own sharp tone? How wrong is that?
- They can’t do anything right, or fast enough – if we haven’t allowed enough time, they probably can’t do it fast enough. When hurrying, they will make mistakes, especially if I’m barking orders to hurry
- If you’re late, it’s ok to be cranky, all the way there – sometimes we just need to accept we’re late. Don’t sit with clenched jaws in a car full of tension all the way there, turn on the radio and move on! Better to be there happy and late, than stressed and still just as late.
There are very few instances where the cost of impatient rushing is really worth it. Time to slow down, mama!