Not long ago, there was a post that went around about a mom who decided to never tell her daughter to hurry up anymore. I saw a shit ton of people share it on Facebook. It went something like this: “One day I realized that I was a shitty parent just like you, but then I decided to become the fucking parent of the year. How did I do it? I just decided to let my daughter lollygag and fart around all goddamn day and never say a word to her about how long she takes to do everyfuckingthing … because now I’m a better parent than you.” (Did you read that article? Did I get that about right?)
Crock of shit.
Seriously. I’m calling BULLSHIT! Yes, in all caps … so I’m totally yelling it. Because I’m that pissed about it.
That better-than-the-rest-of-us Mom says she just allows a few extra minutes so that her
slow ass inquisitive daughter can look at the clouds and pick up a billion rocks and stick them up her nose explore the world. Again, I call Bullshit!!!! Every parent without rocks up their own damn nose with both feet on the ground knows that if you give a toddler or preschooler two extra minutes, they’ll want five. If you allow for five extra minutes of fiddle-farting around, they’ll want ten. It’s never enough. Never. Ever. Enough. And there’s always something else they want to do instead of what you want them to do. (I believe that’s the first rule of Preschool Club. Well, probably the second rule. I’m sure the first rule is You do not talk about Preschool Club. But the second rule has to be Always find something that you desperately want to do that is NOT what the parent is telling you to do. *Throw an epic fit if necessary to convey the importance of doing this other thing.)
But, here’s the rub. Even though I don’t believe that she will always allow her daughter to take just as much time as she needs (because who in the world has the patience necessary to allow a child the time to indulge their every whim?? Not even a lovechild of Gandhi and Mother Teresa would have that kind of tolerance!), I think it’s a horrible parenting idea.
Sure, kids need to be able to use their imagination. They need to be able to look at the world from their unique little eyes’ perspective. Kids should explore the world and look closely at big things–and little things too. They ought to be able to try to tie their own shoes and get dressed by themselves. All of these things build independence, creativity and great thinking skills.
But you know what else our society values? Being punctual. Recognizing that the world shouldn’t always have to wait on you. Understanding that there’s a time and place for everything.
Let’s paint a little picture here: You casually walk in late to a doctor appointment with a handful of rocks. You say to the receptionist, “Hey, look at all these amazing rocks I found on my way here! I found round ones and smooth ones and sparkly ones and pink ones and—–” (Insert sound of needle scratching across a record.) She would stop you right there and tell you that you’re thirty minutes late for your appointment. It’s been cancelled. You need to reschedule and you’re being charged a $30 no-show fee. That’s called What Happens In The Real World. And some kid who’s never been told to “Hurry Up!” won’t understand why she can’t just show up to appointments whenever she gets around to it.
We’ve all been sitting in a doctor’s office and had to wait. And wait. And wait.
You know what I’ve never heard anyone say while waiting for someone else who’s running late?
“I bet she’s cultivating some really fantastic creativity.”
“I don’t mind waiting. I don’t have anything else to do all day.”
“I hope she’s spinning in circles feeling the sun on her face and the wind in her hair. That would be wonderful for her.”
“Maybe he’s counting the spots on all the ladybugs he finds. That’s such a great use of my time.”
“It makes me happy to sit here with my thumb up my ass. It’s how I was hoping to spend my day.”
“I bet he’s probably doing something really rewarding like blowing bubbles or counting leaves or jumping over every single crack he sees. Good for him.”
No one likes waiting on someone who’s late. No one.
So, maybe, rather than teach our kids that the world revolves around their curious minds, we ought to teach them balance. That sometimes it’s ok to explore and check things out. And other times you need to get your ass in gear and get the fucking show on the road. Sometimes letting your mind wander is fine. And other times you have to focus on the task at hand–no matter how many roses beg you to smell them.
Our kids will be in for a very rude awakening when they get to school / work / real life if they’ve been allowed to operate at their own snail’s pace all the damn time. They’ll be expected to Hurry Up. They will have to pass a flowerbed full of rocks and just ignore them. They’ll have to tune in to the content during class and let the clouds pass by through the window without finding all the shapes they can. They’ll be expected to pull their head out of their ass and get shit done.
If we always let our kids do things at their own pace and on their own time, we will have missed some important parenting opportunities. Our kids need to know that it’s important to be punctual and considerate of other people’s time–even their parents’ time. Otherwise, our kids will just grow up to be the Asshats Who Are Always Running Late.