The news of certain harsh school tardiness prevention methods in Loudoun County last week hit a nerve. Hundreds responded to The Post’s stories about the school system’s use of the court system to deal with parents who are chronically late dropping off their kids.
Many readers agreed with the school system’s approach for two reasons.
The first: The parents are punished, not the children, who at this age are largely at the mercy of their parents. (Unlike the schools that dole out suspensions to students as young as 4. See today’s Post story by Donna St. George on this troubling practice here.)
The second reason: Late-comers deserve the comeuppance. Words like “selfish” and “indulgent” were common in readers’ reactions to the stories. I joined Kojo Nnamdi on his WAMU radio show today to talk about the issue and, perhaps, talk with more parents who think repeated tardiness is a serious offense.
As it happens, I empathize with the just-missed-the-bell parents.
Not chronically, but on occasion, I deliver my pre-kindergarten daughter just after the bell. Maybe more of a problem (and harbinger of things to come when I eventually have two who have to be at school on time) is that on the vast majority of mornings when we do make it there on time, it’s a skin-of-our-teeth arrival, the result of rushing and stress.
I have many justifications for this, but the fact is that many of the parents of my daughter’s classmates deliver their kids on time and with seeming ease. Also, when my husband walks my daughter to school he isn’t late. He leaves the house earlier and the process tends to be much more calm. He doesn’t even use my standard out-the-door command: A frantic “Let’s go, go go!”
In other words, it’s not circumstances that make me late, it’s me. There’s apparently a clinical label for this. Well, seven labels — each one fits a different sort of late person.
The labels come from Diana DeLonzor, a time-management expert and author of, “Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged,”(Post Madison, 2003). I first came across them in an article about her book in the Seattle Post-Intellegencer:
• The rationalizer has a hard time acknowledging responsibility for lateness and tends to blame outside circumstances.
• The producer wants to squeeze as much into every minute as possible; they are always busy.
• The deadliner subconsciously enjoys the last-minute sprint to the finish line; they feel more alive when running out of time.
• The indulger exercises less self-control; tends to procrastinate.
• The rebel resists authority and everyday rules; might run late as a form of control.
• The absent-minded professor is easily distracted, forgetful and caught up in their own introspection.
• The evader feels anxiety about his or her environment and tries to control it; their own needs or routine come before being on time.
Self-diagnosing, I’m a classic “producer.” The definition seems redundant with my other label “parent” ... but there I go justifying again, so I guess I’ve got some “rationalizer” mixed in. (My husband, who read through these with a knowing smirk, adds that I’m in denial about being a “deadliner” too.)
Not incidentally, as I write this, the seconds count past my drop-dead time to leave to make it to the radio show on time. Maybe I’ll catch a break on traffic?
How about you? Do you recognize yourself in one or more of these terms?
When it comes to making our kids late, what strategies can help us late-comers overcome our tendencies?