My friend, DJ and generally fun guy, Sandy, set me this challenge when I sent a request for inspiration out on Twitter this morning. Simple. Write about timekeeping as a parent.
“Your timing, like your nappy, stinks.”
Now. As any parent knows if you’ve got kids in nappies, the last thing you do before loading them into the car and leaving the house is you check said nappy for Code Brown. If you’ve got half an hour to make a 10 minute journey, the nappy will be clear. If you’ve got 5 minutes to make that journey, you’re looking at a Code Brown that necessitates a complete change of clothes, possibly with the use of decontamination suits. Whilst this is happening, other kids who hadn’t realised the frantic rushing around and loading into the car meant you were going anywhere will suddenly remember that they have (a) forgotten to go to the loo themselves, (b) forgotten one or more vital toys that they have now forgotten the location of and expect you to find, (c) neglected something vital – shoes are a good one, as are coats, or (d) all of the above.
Put simply, the speed you are able to leave the house is inversely proportional to the degree of urgency with which you need to leave the house. Or, always give yourself at least an hour more than you think you’ll need. You’re going to need it.
Can you sign this?
“This” usually being the permissions slip for the event they’ll be going on that day. I guarantee “this” will have been in their bag for at least a week, probably longer.
Can I have…?
You’ve just sat down. Maybe you’ve opened a book, maybe you’ve got a cup of tea and you’re about to watch something on TV. Until that point the kids have quietly occupied themselves in another room. The second – the second – you’re doing something purely for yourself, it starts. Can I have a drink. Can I have something to eat. Can I go on your computer. Can we have a bath. More cans than the only bit of Orpheus in the Underworld everyone can hum. So you capitulate. You get a bath running, switch on the computer, let them loose on the fruit bowl. But you can’t settle down, oh no. No, they can’t actually use the computer so you’ve got to get them to the Lego website and remind them what they did last time. The orange they’ve picked is one of those where the peel comes off in tiny, tiny bits and is bitter as hell. They turn the tap on to get a drink and flood the place. I swear PVRs were invented by a parent, pausing TV while you deal with this is definitely genius.
Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.
There are things you do every day. Go to school, for an example. Every day of the week, bar weekends and holidays, the kids have to be out of the house for 0845 to catch the bus. Every. Day. And yet every day this comes as a surprise. “What? Now?” the cry goes up. “Yes, shoes on, coats on, lunch in bags, out. Go! Go! Go!” “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!” as they have to leave the TV. Bedtimes are equally a surprise. It’s the same time as it was yesterday, Bucko, now get to bed.
Over-reliance on TV.
Our morning TV is very much governed by TV. The kids have their breakfast, practice whatever musical instruments we can make them practice where appropriate, then off to the Sony Babysitter(tm) until it’s time to leave the house. You get used to this routine. You know, for instance, that during the break after the second Peppa Pig on Channel 5 it’s time to put shoes on. Then after Bananas in Pyjamas it’s time to leave the house. You start to rely on these things. Then they change the running order. Granted, it doesn’t happen often during the year, but it’s enough to throw the house into a mad panic. The confusion at having to leave the house before B1 has said anything stupid or inane to B2 is palpable. Furrowed brows and “are you sure it’s time to go?” all round. Being in Scotland, the worst time for this is the summer holidays – several weeks out of synch with the rest of the UK.
So there you go. A very random Wednesday for you. Thanks, Sandy. I’ll return to this theme another day…