As I try and try to understand my children – or me as a Mommy to my children, it dawns on me that kids are really just an exaggerated microcosm of our human nature. For example:
They always Want what they can’t have (me, toys, more time to fool around before going anywhere). Remember dating and the nice guy who called consistently. Things were going well and you took for granted that he was interested in you. Then one night he didn’t call. Or didn’t end the date with, “When will I see you again?” All of a sudden, he’s the greatest guy on the planet! You gotta have him!!! Kind of like what happens for my kids the minute I pick up the phone, start to prepare dinner, walk into the other room…
They are amazing Creatures of Habit. I wrote about this awhile ago, saying What you allow one night or two, quickly becomes habit and hard to undo. We all like our routines and kids can pounce on any chance behavior, turning it into their personal mission to repeat.
They’ll Stretch out any task to fill the time allotted. I was recently working on a book project and a colleague was worried about the deadline – eight months from now. We discussed adding another six months (and missing a publishing cycle) but knew we’d just stretch the same amount of work into a longer period. My kids will take as long as I give them to get dressed, brush their teeth, or do whatever’s necessary to get their butts out the door in time for school or any other place we need to get to by a certain time. Isn’t it amazing that it can take 2 or 20 minutes to put on a pair of shoes?
(My rule: Add 15 mystery minutes to every deadline for getting out the door on time. This allows for the coat trauma, the carseat drama, and my need to pee once everybody’s finally buckled in.)
And of course, they procrastinate. Ask them to do anything and they’ll put it off. Unless, the reward (or threat) entices them enough. Same for us. We all procrastinate – especially on the stuff we don’t want to do (which for our kids is anything we ask them to do).
In the end, all I can do is try to have some empathy when witnessing my worst or simply most human traits in my kids.