Friday, January 21, 2011

Remembrance of Punctuality Past

Despite the fact that LO came a full week early, he has since made it clear that he is not particularly interested in being on time to anything.  If, for example, we need to be somewhere by 10:30, LO will decide at about 10:08, just as I'm starting to get his cold weather gear ready and all together, that now would be an absolutely faboo time for a snack.  Okay, not a problem.  I put the cold weather gear aside so that he can raid Mom's Kitchen.  Now, if LO were a true American eater, he'd be full, happy, dressed in warm clothes and in the car so that we were no more than 15 minutes late.  20 tops.  Unfortunately, LO comes from the European food tradition, where one lingers over a meal to the point where napping face down in the main course is not only accepted but encouraged.  (I might be slightly off in my knowledge of European culture.)  So at approximately 10:48, I'm finally packing the child up, running to the car and then driving at a snail-like pace (I've got a baby on board!) toward whomever I am disappointing that particular day.

LO comes by his lackadaisical view of time honestly.  It has become family lore about how LO's great-grandmother Ruthie nearly caused my if-you're-not-15-minutes-early-you're-late stepfather to have his head explode when they were on their way to meet up the rest of the family at an Orioles game.  Bryon was ready a solid hour before they needed to go, and started gently prodding Ruthie to get a move on.  Grandma was not a young woman at this time, and I doubt she had ever been particularly hurry-able.  So when they had less than 45 minutes before the National Anthem, and my stepfather was already standing at the garage door with his car keys in hand and his foot tapping a gentle tattoo that repeated "wehavetogowehavetogo", Grandma announced that she would like to have a snack.  Most individuals would have grabbed an apple or some crackers or cookies and ate in the car, but not Ruthie.  She got out a plate and poured a glass of iced tea, and sat down and ate her snack like a mensch.  Because you just can't hurry proper digestion.

Clearly, LO recognizes the need for proper digestion (and the role of sleep in good nutrition), because I don't think I've been on time to anything at all since he arrived.  Now, I do like to think of myself as a punctual individual, and this has been seriously undermining my view of myself.  Now, to be fair, my view of myself as punctual does come from the rules of time in EGB-land, which are not necessarily the rules the rest of the world abides by.  For example, I round time in five minute increments in my favor.  So if I am supposed to be somewhere at 3:00, and I don't get there until 3:05, I'm still on time.  (Even if it's a doctor's appointment and I was told to get to get there 15 minutes before my appointment time to fill out paperwork.)  Because you can round those five minutes down, and doesn't everyone do that?

This rounding is related to my distance theory of time which only seems to apply to me.  The farther something is away from me, the more likely I am to be on time to get there.  For the four years that I taught high school, I lived about a 25 minute drive away from the school, and I was almost always early to school.  The only times I was late were when there was some sort of traffic/weather issue that was outside of my control.  The secret: I gave myself 30 minutes to get to school, even though it only took 25.  Now, there is nothing remotely revolutionary about this particular plan.  It's how most responsible people handle the morning commute.  The issue with the distance theory of time is when I live less than ten minutes away from my destination.  For about a year, I lived a five minute drive from my job at the Boys and Girls Club.  I think I was on time to the job about twice, and both of those times I was leaving from J's house (a 20 minute drive from the Club).  Because the Club was only five minutes away, I seemed to think that getting there would take NO time, or even negative time.  It was an after school club, and I did not have to be there until 1:00 in the afternoon every day.  So at 12:58 every day, as I was wrapping up lunch and my daily Law & Order fix, I'd think, "I need to get to work."  And from there I would go put my dishes in the sink, go to the bathroom one more time, pet the cat, find my keys, and get in my car.  At that point, it would be 1:07, which was okay, because according to the theory of time rounding, it was only a little after 1:00, and since it took NO time to get to work, I was still okay.  When I pulled up to work at 1:16 every day, I would be genuinely surprised at how late it was.  Didn't I make up any time while I was driving?

My terrible punctuality performance at the Boys and Girls Club notwithstanding, I have always been someone who is generally on time.  I simply am having trouble adjusting to life with a baby in terms of getting places.  In the past, if I had a 3:00 appointment that would last about an hour, the process of getting there and getting home would look something like this:

2:30  Think, "I need to start getting ready to go."
2:32  Click on one more link to a Miss Manners discussion board.
2:39  Okay, one more link.
2:43  Find my shoes.
2:47  Double check that my checkbook and wallet are in my purse.  Waste a minute looking for them in a panic because I forgot that I'd put them in the compartment made for them in the purse.
2:48  Run to the car in a panic.
2:49-3:05 Drive the 15 minutes to the appointment.
3:06 Walk into the appointment, congratulating myself for being on time.  (It's only really 3:01, after all).
4:10 Leave appointment
4:25 "I wonder what's new on the Miss Manners discussion board?"

The overall process would take about an hour and a half, from discussion board time-waster to discussion board time-waster.  Now, getting to the same appointment looks more like this:

2:00 Think, "I need to start getting ready for us to go."
2:04  Check email for the 679th time for the day, just in case something vital has come in.
2:08 "You're hungry?  Now?  Really?"
2:17 "Hey, wake up!  You're still hungry?  (Sigh.)  Okay."
2:24  Wrestle limp baby limbs into warm clothes, and then wrestle limp, sleepy baby into carseat.
2:27  Stow carseat, with now completely wide awake child, into car.
2:28-2:37 Drive slowly and carefully to the Y, where LO is expected in daycare at 2:30.
2:39 Sign into the daycare room.
2:40-2:48 Chat with daycare workers about how LO is adorable and growing, then kiss kid far too many times before leaving.
2:49-3:14 Drive to appointment.
3:16 Curse slowness of Otis the Elevator.
3:18 Arrive at appointment, late no matter how you slice it.
4:10 Leave appointment
4:36 Arrive at Y
4:39 Hug LO and give him kisses on the head, particularly if he's fussing.
4:43 Wrestle child back into carseat
4:48 Wait in line at front desk to pay for LO's time in the daycare.  Swing carseat back and forth to try to get LO to stop fussing.
4:54  Get back in car
4:55-5:06 Drive slowly and carefully home.
5:08 "You're hungry?  Didn't you have a bottle at daycare?"

Now, it's a more than three hour process to go to a simple hour long appointment.  It might be easy to think it's not worth the time.  But eventually, LO will be eating solid foods and putting on his own coat.  At that point, he can get out his own plate and snack when we're already running late, and fall asleep at the kitchen table all by himself!  Great-grandma Ruthie would be so proud.

1 comment:

  1. haha I remember trying to adjust to baby wait I'm still trying to adjust! It gets somewhat just learn to plan one appointment for the entire day. And Enzo is three now and we still struggle with coat and shoes on the way out the door. I actually am posting a blog about it today.