This is how a Monday morning can go when a nine year old lives in the house.
I was running behind. It had been a very long weekend and I was reluctant to go to work. Or even get out of bed. But out of bed I must because being late isn’t a viable option for the third grade. His taxi must still run on time even if the taxi driver is out of gas.
This meant that when I stepped out of the shower and saw that it was 7:15 – the tail end of my 7:00-7:15 window for departure, I turned on the turbo thrusters. I quickly wrapped the towel around my torso and sought out the child.
“Hal,” I said in a brisk tone, looking approvingly at his completed state of dress, “Mommy is running behind. I need you to make sure you are completely ready to go because when I’m ready, we’ve got to fly out of here. Ok?”
I then turned back to my bathroom where I put on my clothes, deodorant, makeup, hair cream, jewelry, and glasses before grabbing my cell phone off the charger and heading down the hall less than five minutes later.
Hal, on the other hand, went to the living room, lay down on the couch, and tried to start up the new video game he had on his laptop computer.
I flew through the living room calling out, “Ok, I just need to grab my lunch. It won’t take any time. We need to go or you’ll be late to school!”
I then grabbed my already-prepared lunch items and headed to the front door with them. He looked up from his laptop and said, “Mommy, something is wrong. I don’t have Subnautica or Steam anymore. It’s asking if I want to buy it!”
Standing by the front door, dropping the food into a tote bag, I responded, “Well, we’ll have to look at it this evening. We need to go now so you aren’t late. Come on! Close the laptop!”
He closed the laptop and slid off the couch. Then he walked unhurriedly into the dining room and looked at an unopened bag of French bread on the table. Without any sense of the urgency I was exhibiting by the front door, he pointed to the bread and asked, “Can I get some of this to eat?”
“No! I told you to make sure you were ready to go so we wouldn’t be late! That includes eating breakfast. We need to go NOW.”
“I just want to take some with me.”
“No! We. Are. Going. To. Be. Late. You should have thought of that earlier.”
“It would just take a minute for me to open the bag and tear off some bread,” he muttered tearfully as he picked up his backpack and headed toward me.
“True. And that’s a minute you should have taken earlier instead of trying to play a game on the computer!”
This is the disconnect between parent and child. The child can’t believe the parent won’t let him take a minute to grab some food on his way out the door. The parent can’t believe the child ignored all the indicators that he needed to take care of business sooner.
And no amount of pointing to the clock in the car and discussing the situation closes that gap in perspective. Instead, the child sits in the backseat staring angrily at the back of the parent’s head while the parent oscillates back and forth between incredulity at the child’s cluelessness and guilt at making him skip breakfast.