How Not to Lose Your Mind When Your Child Dawdles

My daughter Viva is destined to be a glaciologist, should any glaciers remain by her adulthood. I know this because every time it has snowed or frozen since she learned to walk, she has taken time to test the texture, density and load bearing qualities of every drift, puddle and snow mound she’s come across.

It takes about 30 minutes to walk from the house to the car after a snow… even (especially) if it’s time for school.

I, like most parents, am perpetually harried. When Viva is making it a point to stomp every snowball from the lakefront to O’Hare, my blood pressure skyrockets and my head swims. She and I are reliably tardy to whichever school, social or enrichment activity she is supposed to attend, and I do a lot of shouting at red lights in the car.

It is an infuriating but inevitable lesson of parenting: You simply cannot rush a child. Perhaps you can lead the horse to water, perhaps you can convince it to drink, but you cannot make it drink quickly.

If your New Year’s resolution towards getting a grip on moving your child efficiently from place to place has already been scuttled, perhaps do as Viva and I do. Embrace the three P’s of transporting your progeny:

Prepare. Your child cannot rush, so have all clothes, toys and foodstuffs ready. Plan backwards and leave adequate time for tarrying.

Patience. Your child’s dallying and poking about is where learning happens, where you can bond with them and mentor them, and maybe learn a few things yourself. 

Pffft. Forget it. You’re always going to be late. You’re no longer driving your own life—you’re a passenger. Your child, the tiny pilot of your existence, cares not where you go nor when you get there.

Did I mention have patience? It is a virtue and a necessity. You might as well make like Viva and enjoy every snow drift.

Viva Dawdling. Viva Viva. Viva Daddy.

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This article originally published in Chicago Parent’s March 2020 print issue. Read the rest of the issue here.

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