The Lesson My Son Taught Me About Rushing
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
It was a typical weekday morning, the chaos discernible yet avoidable. I’d shoved a fistful of Cheerios into my mouth before squeezing my 4-year-old’s feet into already-knotted sneakers. Untying them would take time. Time I didn’t have and couldn’t afford to lose (I can already envision the worried comments, so rest assured I did not hurt him). As I hurriedly gathered the kids’ school supplies, lunch bags, my computer, etc. near the door, I noticed my 4-year-old trying to get my father-in-law’s attention. Being a kid, he often thinks he’s being discreet when he’s essentially the drunk loudmouth at the Philadelphia Eagles game, so I heard him audibly whisper, “Lito, I’m going to get you the newspaper. But shhhhhh, don’t tell daddy!”
It was in that moment I realized the unintentional consequences of constantly rushing. My son had been bringing the newspaper inside regularly for my father-in-law (who we live with currently) before we left for school. It was something he enjoyed doing, until I started discouraging it. Why did I? Because more often than not, this good deed came as I was knee-deep in the chaos of getting both he and his brother to school and me to work on time. So my answer was to eliminate it from our routine. I didn’t stop to think that it could possibly have negative effects.
My wife sometimes jokingly tells me that I walk in circles in the morning. And it’s a product of having an overactive brain that refuses to focus on just one thing at a time. No sooner am I pouring the kids’ drinks when I’m starting the coffee maker so I can make myself a cup for the road. No sooner am I laying their clothes out when I’m hustling outside to warm up the car. It’s a daily proverbial rat race, but I’m learning that there are better ways I could be approaching it that don’t culminate with a panicked last-minute sh*tstorm of frustration.
For starters, I need to wake up earlier. This pains me even to type, but the truth of the matter is when I wake up late, the kids get up late, and everything gets pushed back. I realize this. But any sane parent would agree: When the house is serenely quiet and the kids are fast asleep, your human instinct is to embrace the peace, not to rebel against it and wake them up! It won’t be easy. But is it ever?
Secondly, and most importantly, I can’t hold my children accountable for a timeline that I, myself, should be managing. I mean, surely my kids do plenty to delay the process of getting out the door. It often seems like they’re toying with me for their own sick amusement. But if I’m prepared and not scrambling to restore order in the 11th hour, less and less chaos should result.
Since that day, I’ve spoken to my son, Antonio about the newspaper. I emphasized, first and foremost, that I was proud of his intention to do something altruistic for someone else. I didn’t use those words, of course. “Altruism” is asking a lot from a preschooler. But truthfully, not only was I discouraging kindness but I’m sure I was coming across like a complete jerk to my father-in-law. Those aren’t the types of traits I wish to exude and it’s most definitely not the impression I want to make on my extremely impressionable kids. Sure, my intentions were good and my end goal remains the same: to get both my kids to school so I, in turn, can get to work on time. But I also explained something else to him, something that I’m sure I’ll be repeating throughout his life.
“Honey, sometimes daddy is moving so fast he doesn’t stop to look and listen.”
He nodded knowingly. I mean, I’m sure he didn’t really get it. He may have understood it in the literal sense, but the metaphor surely sailed over his head. Unfortunately, I think the majority of parents fall into the speed trap. We’re so centered on the end goal that any roadblock, whether it be a particularly sleepy child, a suddenly ill-fitting pair of pants, or your son darting for the newspaper rather than his car seat, that we forget that it doesn’t always have to be mayhem. In fact, most mornings, it’s completely avoidable. We’re just too tired to notice.
So, if you’re anything like me and find yourself unhinged at times, remember to stop and look around once in a while. Your child may teach you a lesson.
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Image: “Rush” graphic courtesy of Shutterstock.comAdd a Comment