Teaching punctuality


My partner has almost been converted to Christmas following days of Christmas-themed presents from daughter three. Over the weekend, he has had a Christmas mug and Christmas socks from daughter three’s Santa sack. Only son has been very excitedly handing me out presents from his Santa sack. On Saturday I got two photos of daughter three with the Christmas tree. Unfortunately, it was dark when we picked up the Christmas tree so the photos are effectively black. On Sunday, I got a glo-stick bracelet he won at the Christmas fair which has lost its glo and the end of a hose which I have been wearing as a ring. Next week I hope to get my pens back.

I am in daughter three’s bad books after leaving without her on Saturday. I had set down a firm timetable as we had to be at a job interview in London for daughter one by 2pm. “We will be leaving at 12.45 on the dot,” I told daughter one. “I want to come,” announced daughter two immediately. I had promised to scout out vegetarian food for daughter one’s birthday shortly afterwards. Daughter two is vegan and permanently starving. “I’m coming too, ” said daughter three who is always up for an outing and usually has a 10-point plan to accompany it.

By 12.30 no-one was dressed. Daughter one had “gone through the bathroom” which she claims is the major part of getting dressed. By 12.45 the signs were not much better. “I am getting in the car NOW and in two minutes I will be leaving with or without anyone,” I said. “Punctuality is a key feature of getting a job.” Or words to that effect.

I got in the car. Daughter one scuttled out followed by a semi-dressed daughter two. There was no sign of daughter three. “She’s cooking her breakfast,” said daughter two. I sent daughter one in to do a last call for daughter three. Daughter three emerged saying she was not yet ready. “Adios,” I said. It was now closer to 1pm than 12.45.

Two seconds later came a call from home. It was my partner. “Daughter three is fairly unhappy,” he said. Daughter three is pre-teen, but fully hormonal.  I could hear slammings of doors. My partner expressed admiration for my strong line on punctuality, something I am not renowned for. Five minutes later we hit the first of many traffic jams. We arrived at just on 2pm. The job interview took ages and everyone was ravenous because they’d only had fruit for breakfast. I treated the two older ones to a Nando’s. “Do not, under any circumstances, breathe a word of this to daughter three,” I said. I then rang home to say we were on our way. Daughter three answered. “Where are you?” she asked. “Just getting some lunch,” I said, switching the phone to mute in case any Nando-esque sounds filtered through.

When we returned, daughter three was still holed up in her room. “Have you learnt anything from this about punctuality?” I inquired. It is all a bit ironic since daughter three is usually the fastest into the car because she wants to bagsy the front seat and is by far the most organised of the team. She had parents evening this week and was described as a role model of maturity and togetherness by the citizenship teacher who has clearly not seen her when she has not been allowed to come on an outing. Plus since I had children my punctuality rating for anything non-work related has been on a bit of a decline.

Daughter three had not, it turns out, been studying punctuality in our absence. She had been devising a detailed outing for Sunday as payback.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.

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