My oldest sister was the first to have children. She is seven years older than me, and I recall bitching a lot about how she was always late. I couldn’t understand what was so hard about getting her shit rounded up and getting somewhere on time. It wasn’t until I had children of my own (I have three of them ranging from 11 months to 8 years) that I started to realize leaving the house with children is a chaotic mix of lost items, poopy butts, sudden hunger, loss of concentration, and fits of rage. If you are ever wondering why I’m always late, here are a few examples of what I’m dealing with.
Lost shoes: I suspect my kids hide one shoe from a pair each night because they hate me. Every time we leave the house, I have to spend 5 to 10 minutes searching for a lost shoe. And I know that there is some reader out there right now ready to solve my problem. “Just have the kids put the shoes back where they belong each time.” And to you I say, “Kiss my ass.” Most of the time, I get home with kids, I’m so irritated from being in a van with three screaming wanting little turds that the last thing I want to do is worry about their shoes. And yet, the second I can’t find their shoes, I will flip and tell them to put their shoes back where they belong. The whole thing is a twisted cycle that makes daddy want to live in the woods.
Lost comfort item: For a long time my oldest wouldn’t leave the house without his blanket: a tattered stained little rag of a thing with blue dinosaurs on it. Whenever we needed to leave, suddenly the blanket would come up missing, and he’d turn into a boogery bitching mess until we spent 10 minutes looking for it.
Thirst: Yesterday I got all three kids ready to go to the store. The baby was buckled in her car seat, my oldest was buckled in the back seat, and suddenly my five year old was dying of thirst. I told her that she had water in the van, but she didn’t want that water. She wanted water from her special Princess cup. So I gave it to her, and then she slowly sipped for several minutes while staring at me, her eyes glossy and cold.
Hunger: My kids are crafty. I feed them before we go somewhere, but they don’t eat it. They just pick at it. They tell me it is gross, or they don’t feel hungry. Then, right before we need to leave, suddenly the food looks good, and they want to eat it. So I offer to take the food with us, but then it turns out that it doesn’t taste as good in the van. Or they insist on my giving them something else (usually mac and cheese or fish sticks). This is usually when daddy ends up dragging a kicking and screaming child into the van.
Poopy butt: There is something about getting ready to go that triggers my 11-month-old’s bowels.
Sudden need to pee: I will fight with my son for 10 minutes to go to the bathroom before we get in the van. He will insist that he doesn’t need to go, but the second I get everyone loaded and turn over the motor, his bladder fills and he has to spend several minutes taking a wiz and then dicking around with the bathroom sink.
Argument over seat placement: We gave the kids assigned seats in the van hoping that it would keep them from arguing over who was in whose seat. But it didn’t work. Now it’s all about arguing over who is in the cool seat. We move the assignments to accommodate the cool seat, which is hard to pin down because the cool seat seems to change every time we get in the van. This is why daddy cries.
Sudden illness: This really depends on where we are going. If it’s a trip to the store, everyone feels fine. If we are heading to school or church, suddenly a wave of tummy aches washes over the house.
Screen distraction: Telling my kids to get ready when they are looking at a screen is about as effective as telling a turtle to walk faster. Take the screens away so they can focus on getting ready, and suddenly I’m an asshole and everyone sprawls out on the floor and cries.
What are some of the reasons you are late?
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.