“Slow as molasses in January.” That’s what my grandmother would say. But today, with the advent of central heating, global warming and slice ’n’ bake cookies, molasses flows fast, nobody bakes and those folksy expressions don’t have much relevance – not in my life, anyhow.
In my house, the expression has been revised to “slow as Lewis in February.” My youngest son has no sense of urgency and nothing I do can make him hustle.
Getting him to school on time requires constant prodding and I find myself shrieking out the time like a banshee Big Ben: “It’s 6:45, get up! It’s 7:10, go brush your teeth! It’s 7:15, do you have your backpack? It’s 7:30! Hurry up!” I’m telling you, the kid is slow.
It’s probably my fault. After all, he was born nearly two weeks after his due date. That should have been a warning. I should have done something, like downed castor oil or gone bungee jumping. Instead, I waddled into my 10th month politely smiling when the neighbors asked, “Aren’t you ever going to have that baby?”
I should have been induced. Maybe that would have given my son a respect for deadlines and reinforced the concept of punctuality. Instead, I listened to my midwife, who advocated a hands-off approach and suggested that I monitor the fetal kicks, take non-stress tests and submit to numerous ultrasounds so that nature could take its course. That course took nine months and 15 days. I’m sure that when my son was called out of the womb and into the world, he told Mother Nature, “Hold on. I’m coming. Five more minutes.”
Like my grandmother’s molasses, the agonizing slowness of my youngest child is especially pronounced in the wintertime. Maybe it’s the addition of mittens, scarves and boots that makes simply getting out of the house an ordeal. Just this morning, I waited while he found his mittens and put them on, then took them off so that he could tie his shoes, then put them back on again, took them off to zip his jacket, put them on again. It was interminable.
“Hurry up,” I urged.
I walked him to the school bus. A few snowflakes swirled in the breeze. They fogged up my glasses and made my coat look like an ad for dandruff shampoo. I carried my son’s astoundingly heavy backpack and his saxophone case so that he could scamper to school unencumbered. Still, as I strode briskly toward the bus stop, he lagged behind.
“Hurry up!” I yelled and picked up the pace. I looked back to see if he was hurrying. He wasn’t. He was standing on the sidewalk, immobile, looking at the sleeve of his navy blue parka. I felt my frustration building. If he missed the bus, I’d have to drive him and then I’d be late.
“Mom! Come here, hurry!” he said, motioning to me with a mittened hand.
I trudged back. “Lew, we’re going to be late,” I growled.
“Look,” he said, holding out his arm.
Against the dark blue nylon of his jacket were perfect snowflakes. Every one was like a tiny work of art. Each different and each beautiful. Each one floated onto the jacket at its own pace and then melted away. I was glad Lewis noticed them and I wondered, could the snowflakes teach us a lesson on this hectic morning?
Nah. But we could still make the bus if we ran. Hurry up!
When she’s not hurrying dallying children, Carol Band is writing about the trials and triumphs of family life. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of Carol’s award-winning Household Word columns, check out Parenthood.com/householdword.html.