Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Switched at Birth?...

I am a very punctual person. If I have to be somewhere at 8am, I am there at precisely 8am. I think that at birth I was given a special fairy gift for time management. It has always amazed my husband that I can wake up 30 minutes late, find a way to get everything done, and be out the door at the time that I would normally leave. I know how long it takes to get two boys ready, what traffic is like at a certain time of day, and how much time I will waste standing in line at the grocery store.

So, how is it that I can have a child who seems to have no concept of time whatsoever? Time for my youngest is nonexistent. He lives in some zen-like state of unhurriedness. If the house were on fire and the smoke alarms were blaring , he would probably stop on the way out of the house, looking for his favorite Hot Wheels car. This would remind him that the race track was in his room and he should probably get that too. Once in his room, he would remember that he left his little plastic lizard in his bed. He would pick it up, hear the alarms again, head towards the door, stop in his tracks, and then begin looking for that Hot Wheels car that he forgot to get. Maybe, if I was lucky, he would remember to get out of the house before the smoke inhalation got to him.

Every morning, my son goes to a local pre-K program for three hours. In order to be there by 8:30, we need to leave by 8:15. This should not be a difficult task considering that both of my sons are awake at 6:30 and eating breakfast by 6:45. That leaves approximately one and a half hours to eat, get dressed, brush their teeth, make their beds and the youngest has to feed the dog. That seems like plenty of time doesn't it? Even if the list is long, he should be able to accomplish at least a few tasks by 8:15 right? Nope.

Each morning it's the same. He finishes breakfast quickly enough, but the he spends the next hour becoming distracted, playing with toys, and doing just about everything but get ready. We remind; we nag; we beg; we plead; we eventually yell and it's all for naught. We threaten to make him pay money out of his allowance for not doing his chores, which upsets him, but doesn't seem to actually motivate him. He eventually gets things done, but only after a great deal of aggravation.

Today, I'd had it. I called him to me and asked him to tell me the list of things that he needed to do. He recited them quickly and easily. I told him that I wasn't going to yell at him, or tell him, over and over, to do things anymore. It was going to be up to him to get himself ready. If he wasn't ready by 8:15, then he was going to miss school. He said, "OK, " and immediately scampered off to get dressed, which he actually did right away. It was 7:25 and things were looking good.

By 8:00 he hadn't done a single thing more.

It took all my strength not to chide him, remind him, or give him a hint that he was running out of time. After all, a lot can be done in fifteen minutes; maybe he would glance at the clock and get motivated.

He did eventually get motivated. At 8:12, he realized that his time was almost up. He raced to the bathroom, brushed his teeth, hurriedly made his bed and came up to me to say he was ready. It was 8:17. He still hadn't fed the dog and didn't have any socks or shoes on. I wanted to be merciful, but I knew that if I was, I'd pay for it tomorrow.

"Sorry, " I told him. "It's past 8:15 and you haven't finished. You'll have to miss school today."

This, of course, started the water-works. It lasted about 5 seconds. Then he looked at me and said in a very sweet, happy voice, "Can you play Candyland with me?"

AAAARRRRGGGHHH! Does nothing make an impression on this child! I am just hoping that 5 seconds of frustration will be enough to help him remember to get ready tomorrow, otherwise I am going to have a DNA test done to prove that he is biologically mine.

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