Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N: Now IS Later!

Impatient doggy!
I grew up around animals, so I came to understand that animals don’t have much sense of the passage of time. I can’t even remember how many times I left the house for only a few minutes and my dog Honey Bear acted like she hadn’t seen me in hours when I returned. Oh, and don’t get me started on how much my cats protest when I make them wait for breakfast each morning until I am awake enough to function. They act like by the time I get around to filling their dishes, they’ve been waiting all day for their food!

But it never occurred to me that children can have trouble with discerning passage of time, too. I’m a ‘later’ person. I’m guilty of telling people we will do things later without giving a specific time. I have every intention of following through on my promise, but I get so distracted by whatever I am doing that I don’t have enough cognitive function left during those moments to think in those terms. In fact, I only have a passing awareness of what time it is at that very moment, if at all.

My 7-year-old son is either more in tune with my way of thinking or very patient with me, so he waits until I’m no longer distracted to ask when this ‘later’ may be. My 5-year-old daughter, though, is the exact opposite. I swear every minute she will impatiently exclaim, “Ok, it’s later now! When can we do it?”

I try to explain to her that it isn’t later, but she insists that now IS later. Technically, we are both correct. We haven’t reached my idea of ‘later’ yet, while each second after our conversation IS actually later. We have gone round and round many times on whether or not it was actually ‘later’!

In the end, I’ve decided to try to stop for a moment, think, and come up with a better response than simply ‘later’ to explain to her when we can finally do what she is asking. It has been quite the chore trying to retrain my brain in this area. I still occasionally find myself automatically telling my kids that we will do something later. However, I remember all the now-IS-laters and debates I’ve endured over the last couple of years, and I realize that often it makes more sense to change a little for others than to endure endless frustration!

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