Have you ever told that little white lie?
You know the one I'm talking about. The "5 more minutes" lie. It has many variations and usages.
1. When you know telling the truth about the ACTUAL length of time will start a small war you don't want to wage. EXAMPLE: "When can quiet time be over?" ... "5 more minutes."
2. Similar to 1, when you're attention is engaged elsewhere from your child and you're so engrossed you're pretty sure the actual length of time will be much longer but would rather not tell. EXAMPLE: "When will you be done?" ... "5 more minutes."
3. When you really mean an extremely short amount of time but 5 minutes sounds a lot better, plus you know your child has no concept and you'd rather not argue. EXAMPLE: "I don't want to leave!" ... "Ok. 5 more minutes."
And I'm sure I've missed a few.
bug has recently become very obsessed with time. He has a tendency to carry around a small quiet book he's had for years because there is a page with a clock inside. When I tell him he needs to put his shoes on he'll say, "well, my clock says it's not time for that."
He will ask me repeatedly when some highly anticipated event will occur. "When will Oma be here?" When I answer "In a little bit," he'll immediately respond with, "But how many?" As if units of time are counted off on little fingers.
If he sees my phone he will ask, "how many is it?" Referring to the clock on the front.
Generally, when he hears someone talk about time (ask for the time, ask what time something begins at, etc) he will promptly quip: "It's 48-15 O'Clock."
In short, time means nothing to him. The concept of time is fascinating, but the application escapes him entirely. He can be perfectly happy playing in the freezing cold backyard for hours, and only come in when half dragged. He can also lose interest in something he enjoys in a matter of minutes. He will wait in agonizing impatience for the arrival of a friend or sit in absolute stillness while reading for so long it's unnerving. He goes to bed at the same time every night, because he is subject to "house rules" but he awakens anywhere from 4 AM until 10 AM. It's all the same to him. He'll eat his breakfast (which at times consists of uncooked oatmeal since he couldn't reach the microwave, but "it tasted good anyway, Mommy") he'll play with his toys, he'll read stories and create general chaos whether we are still asleep or not. 4 AM? 10 AM? What's the difference?
I am also obsessed with time, and usually because I am perpetually tardy. It's a bad habit that I continuously swear I'll conquer. I am ruled by the minutes passing as I hurry us along to school, to church, to babysitters, to doctor appointments, to play dates... Watching, ever watching as time marches on; tiny soldiers in a staccato parade, goose-stepping across the glass face.
Yesterday, bug came to me at the end of quiet time. "Mommy," he was very serious. "Your phone numbers say that it is 3-0-0. So quiet time is over."
And in amazement, I saw that he was right. Quiet time was over. Time, as it so often does, had flown by. And when did he learn to tell time?
I looked at them last night, those little bundles I brought into the world - not so little anymore. And I thought perhaps, I should alter my measurement of time. Instead of minutes or hours, late or early, perhaps I should measure it in "snowball fights won" or "length of uncontrollable laughter." Maybe I should count smiles and tickles instead of seconds; say "It's 48-15 O'Clock" instead of falling into step with the relentless army of ticks and tocks.
It'll probably make me late a lot. But I'm generally late anyway.
I guess I'd rather be late for the doctor than late for my kids' childhood.