Master Dawdler

(1st Day of Kindergarten!)

We have a “Master Dawdler” that lives in our house. He has 4 tasks to complete in 1 hour every morning. I’m amazed, day after day, by how this isn’t easily accomplished without changing the entire dynamics of our family’s morning. I developed this clothespins system in order to decrease nagging, increase independence, and give him visual and tactile cues to complete his tasks.

I can’t comprehend how the threatening, yelling, and taking away privileges doesn’t really seem to bother him at ALL!!! He just goes on about his morning kinda chilled out, moving on his own time clock, and bucking all our attempts at hurrying him on. 


We could take him out for a nice dinner and he would be finished eating in about 3 minutes and wanting to run around the restaurant, climb all over us, or get under the table. It takes him however, honestly 15 minutes to eat a bowl of instant oatmeal with at least 5 commands to “hurry up” or “just eat”. Even when I’m frustrated and angry it still cracks me up a little to see Rick, my hubby, just as frustrated and “saying loudly” nothing more than “EEEEEAAAATTTTTT!” We’ve offered rewards and gloated on him when he was doing “better” but nothing seems to consistently improve his behavior, keep him on task, or speed this little guy up. He still eats his oatmeal at approximately one bite per 2 minutes. I’ve truly considered dressing him for school following his evening bath and having him lie on top of his bed, with just a blanket so it stays made, decreasing his task list to only two things in one hour. 


We have discovered however, that moving his bedtime forward in 15 minutes intervals for each infraction seems to hit the hardest. Yesterday morning I thought I was going to have to send a note to his kindergarten teacher reading, “I will be picking Harrison up today at 2 o’clock so I can get him in bed on time”. 


After trying to zip his coat as he was galloping sideways down the driveway, my tension peaked and I “said” quite loudly, “STOP IT”, all staccato like, then looked around quickly to see what neighbors might have possibly heard me carrying on like this on such a new fresh morning. (Insert sarcastic smile here). I continued my ranting about his behavior as I entered the house. Rick, my usually extremely intelligent husband normally says nothing in situations like this or attempts to offer some gentle encouragement. But this morning, he walked out of the bathroom and said…”Susan, I’m going to tell you the truth whether you want to hear it or not”. Eyes big, and mouth probably open, I stood in silence, yes me silent. I had a flood of anxiety come over me unable to imagine what truths may come out of this quiet man. I braced myself and tried not to get mad before I even heard what he had to say. “The problem is…he is just like you. He doesn’t like to be told what to do and he is so stubborn he will wear you down until he gets his way!” That was it, he turned around and went back into the bathroom. For just a second I tried to get mad but then as I thought about what he had said I found myself with a sheepish grin and almost laughing at the truth I had been told. Additionally, I was slightly relieved that he didn’t say all the many things he could have. 


After school I broke the news to Harrison that he was going to have to miss AWANA at church tonight in order to get him in bed on time to fulfill his punishment. After a few minutes of him whining and fussing and begging me to change his punishment to something else, I realized this then meant that he would be home with me tonight on my “night off”!!! What had I done!?!?! When he realized I wasn’t budging, he went off to play but returned about 10 minutes later and told me, “You know Mom, I’ve been really tired and I think it’s a great decision that I stay home from church tonight and go to bed early”. So there you have it, what I live with. In his sweet little head he had somehow WON. 

(He picked out his clothes himself this day!)

Late that night as I went into his room to check on him and fix his blankets, I realized we had both kind of won. He had a long, leisurely, warm bath while we listen to each other and laughed and talked. He didn’t pause a moment when I asked him to forgive me for losing my patience and throwing fits sometimes. We ended the night reading books together, with him in my lap, and I got to listened to him thank God for his mommy in his prayers. 


“What a great kid”, I said to myself, “exactly like……. his mommy”.

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