(This post was inspired by my friend Murphala at FlourWaterYeast&Salt.)
When I was growing up, we kept all the clocks in the house set 15 minutes fast, because that’s about how much we always ran late. It actually worked pretty well. It takes my rational brain a few minutes to shift gears and say, “Whoa there, the clock is fast, remember?” In the meantime, my reactional brain has seen the time, yelped “Holy pancakes!” and sent a jolt of adrenaline through my system. By the time the rational brain kicks in, I’m already in gear and halfway out the door.
My S.O. is the sort of person who could have coined the expression, “To be early is to be on time; to be on time is to be late.” Living together all these years, I’ve come to appreciate that running a few minutes early means I don’t have to feel rushed, and he’s come to appreciate that the world really doesn’t end if he’s not fifteen minutes early to everything.
Unfortunately for the harmonious balance we have managed to strike, we have children.
One is reasonably well-organized and quite capable of punctuality. He frequently fails to live up to his potential in that area, however, largely because he is a teenager. He loves the thrill of pulling things off without a moment to spare, timing everything down to the last second so he can crow in triumph at the killjoy parents who have been anxiously clucking and fluttering him out the door. At least half the time, though, he leaves something out of his meticulous calculations, and, as his plan includes no margin for error, the whole scheme crashes and burns, accompanied by parental hair-pulling and scolding.
The other child has always been temporally challenged, a condition that has only intensified as she’s moved into her pre-teen years. She can stretch the briefest of tasks into an agonizing effort of Sysiphean proportions. When asked if she’s ready to leave, she’ll answer yes, only to begin rushing around at the moment of departure doing 37 things that have to be done so she can go. I can only guess that she understands “ready to leave” to actually mean “ready to think about getting ready to leave.”
The one good thing about this situation is that it has driven my S.O. and I to greater solidarity in the departure department. Of course, we’re also more unified in terms of elevated blood pressure. Assuming we both survive until the offspring are on their own, I’m pretty sure we’ll never again fuss at each other over being on time.