My 3 year old has been taking skating lessons for the past few weeks. Each Thursday, before he sets off to preschool, I dress him in his “cozy pants.” They are just fleece lined jeans but they are ideal for keeping him warm and dry during the inevitable countless slips to the ice.
When I picked him up at pre-school today, he was wearing his “back up” pair of pants, as the “cozy pants” were mud-soaked from the outside playtime earlier in the day. We now had to frantically race home and change into an older pair of cozy pants and still hope to make it to the rink on time.
In the car home, I already started prepping my son. “Alright, we’re going to have to cooperate and change quickly if we are going to make it on time. Can we do that?”
What it turned out he really meant was, “Ha ha ha…are you kidding me?”
The dallying began the second we got in the door. First we struggled over getting the old pants off. Then I realized the underpants and socks were drenched, too, so they’d have to come off. Then we had to get dressed again and out the door. He was dawdling at his own pace as he is wont to do, so I would try and help. Every step of the way, my attempts to “cooperate” in getting his pants or socks on were met with independence and struggle.
“We are going to be late,” I kept repeating with a rising intensity in my voice.
I found myself loosing my cool. As my frustration mounted so did his. By the end I was huffing and stomping around like a three year-old myself. Finally as we were about to head out the door, I was trying to wrestle his shoes on and he was resisting. Then, under his breath, he muttered in a frustrated voice, “I’m tired of this crap up!”
It took every ounce of me not to fall apart laughing.
On the drive to the rink, I realized that time is an artificial concept. Kids don’t care about time. Sure, they have to learn it like the rest of us, but it is hardly in their nature to worry about being on time. My son wasn’t trying to be difficult, he was being three.
If you are a dad who has limited time with your child, try to avoid falling into the same trap I did. To some degree, men are still required to play the role of disciplinarian and “bad cop.” Don’t add “Mr. Grumpy” to the list. If your limited time with your child is spent barking and chiding, he’ll eventually tune you out.
When time is going to be an issue, try to budget a little more room so you don’t wind up getting bent out of shape when your kid is just being a kid.