Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Train your child up...tight

It was a typical morning here.

First, let me explain that in my home (and in my mind), I am the Time Nazi. Being an undeniable type A-ish person, and having married a Type Z, I am relegated to being drill sergeant—especially in the mornings. Even when I'm not the first one out of bed, it still falls upon me to wake the little boy, wake him again, pack lunches, encourage the child to get dressed, force him to the table to put some sort of edible into his mouth, remind him of the necessity of shoes and a jacket before departing for the bus stop, do a perfunctory check of his brushed teeth and washed face to make sure he's presentable, etc. (I honestly don't know how parents of several children do this every day. I guess the older ones are enlisted, sometimes unwillingly, to help round up and prepare the younger ones. But still. Wow. My respect and sympathy go out to you.)

Anyway, all the while I'm going about my morning business, I am clashing with the Type Z who wants to wrestle with his son, eat breakfast just after I've put all the food away, and have meaningful conversation about his job performance while I'm hollering for the kid to put on both shoes, not just one.

I get a bit resentful at times, being the "driver" of the family, the one who must always be "un-fun." Sometimes we un-fun folks are not happy about our recurring role. Sometimes we feel stereotyped, and bitter. Mostly we just feel uneasy because we can't turn off that un-fun gene, and no one else seems to notice our approach to impending doom in an unplanned, untimely world.

I digress. I am the Time Nazi because I want my son to be aware of schedules and deadlines. I realize there are worse things than being late for school; I mean, he's in kindergarten for crying out loud. If he misses the bus, so what? I'll drive him. I'd honestly rather drive him anyway. But it's the principle of it all, the precedent that is being set. If we fool around and miss the bus now, I'm looking at 12 additional years of fooling around and driving him to school.

I often choose a course of action based on the principle of the matter. For example, why do we bother keeping the kid at the table even when he's finished eating? Because that will be an expectation for the rest of his life. There doesn't seem to be much point in letting things slide now when I know down the road that the sliding must cease; it's a lot easier to learn it right initially than it is to un-teach the wrong way when he's older.

Still, my uncertainty remains: How much uptight is too much? I can see and feel sometimes that I cause stress in my son. Not much, because he's wired a lot like his dad, too, and can drift happily and aimlessly for hours. He's five. But the facts remain: we need to get to the bus stop on time. We need to have enough presence of mind to remember to grab the backpack with all its papers and possessions. We might need to allow a few extra minutes to let out the dog we're dog-sitting.

I don't want to build my offspring to be a monster like me. Yet, I see how my child is already more responsible than many kids his age. It doesn't seem like a crime to foster in him a sense of awareness, an understanding that the world will not wait for him when he dawdles. High blood pressure? Stomach ulcers? Those are bad. But a comprehension of the daily timetable and how to function within it successfully?—that's my goal.

How do I walk that line? Do you, too, walk that line? Or are you the Type Z who is funneled and herded into formation?

P.S. I was slightly annoyed this morning when I got the boys out the door, walked the borrowed dog, and came back into the mess we'd left only to spy my husband's lunch box, full of healthy and paid-for food, sitting on the kitchen counter. Damn.


Cari Skuse said...


I just had the same talk with Mark. I am tired of being the only adult living in this household. Am I the only one who can tell time?!
I had a bit of a laugh at your expense, because I have the same issues here. I want the kids to be responsible so they can stand on their own two feet. Not expect others to do for them when they can do it for themselves. They do make their own lunches every morning. I do check to see what's in there, but for the most part they do good. Don't get me wrong, I still so have to nag to get them moving out the door some mornings, but for the most part they are out there on time.
Good Luck Miss! I know it's a work in progress here.

Anonymous said...

Dont worry, your kid will reach a point where he will brush his teeth on his own and do other things w/o nagging, thats how I deal with it, and if he doesnt, when they get older, they have to sink or swim, which is what I'm going through with my eldest....scary.

chris h. said...

My sister's coworker has 2 kids approximately the same age as my sister's grandkids (my great-nephews -- ages 5 and 3). Coworker's kids are incredibly self-sufficient -- able to get themselves up (on the weekends), get their own cereal, amuse themselves until Mom and Dad get up, etc. My great-nephews, not so much. Type A "momming" can be a really beautiful thing!

Facie said...

I am pretty much a type B, with some A tendencies, which mostly drives my type A hubby crazy.

I admire you type A's; you are exactly right when you say that you are setting expectations now and it will be easier to do that then try to unlearn bad behaviors. Think of it this way: you are really saving Todd and Bri is helping me. We non-type A's would not get a lot done without you A's.

Mel said...

Thanks, everybody--I am mostly encouraged by what I'm reading. I'll remember the "work in progress" phrase and plow forward. : )