I Bit My Tongue

Even though I’d reminded him the night before that we needed to leave early, one morning last week my youngest was running late.  As I headed out to the car without him, he assured me, “Five minutes or less, Mom.”  I sat in the car fuming until I couldn’t take it anymore.  Storming back into the house, I ran into him, laden with all his gear and bags.

“I TOLD you that today was a Stressful Early Day!  I TOLD you to put your stuff in the car last night!”  That was all I said before huffing back to the driver’s seat.  He wisely said nothing.

Once he’d dumped his stuff in the trunk and crawled into the front seat, I backed out almost before he had his door closed all the way.  The silence in the car was not our usual companionable I-know-you’re-not-awake-and-neither-am-I peace and quiet.  There was definitely an edge to it, and I know he was bracing for a motherly tirade.

But I bit my tongue, despite feeling like my blood pressure was up and needed to be vented.  This whole scenario has played out before in our house, with each boy taking his turn (more than once) at being the cause of us running late.  Over the years I’ve learned that an outburst has no value, because

  • it doesn’t get us to school any faster,
  • I can’t turn the clock back, no matter how angry I get,
  • the more angry words we exchange, the worse we both feel,
  • he already knows how mad I am, and
  • it’s going to happen again.

It’s fifteen miles from home to school.  It took me about half that distance to calm down.  When I finally did speak, it was to ask him – calmly – about his after-school schedule.  I could hear the relief in his voice as he replied, because he had braced himself for Ranting Mom (after all, he’s met her before).

Late days happen.  Life goes on.  In the big picture, it’s not worth damaging my relationship with my son when it’s already too late to change anything.

This week I’ll remind him again when “Tomorrow is a Stressful Early Day.”  I’m thinking he’ll be ready on time.  I’ll keep you posted.


  1. Of course I read this after I had just done the same thing. My daughter generally drives herself and brother to school but on this day for logistical purposes I was driving them and picking them up. We were all late, nothing packed up the night before as requested, little sleep on my part as I worked night shift and hadn’t been tobed yet. We finally get in the car start driving and talking, half way to school my says “I forgot my backpack”. I about flipped a lid!!!! Yes I yell yes I made her feel bad which only mad me feel bad and started our whole week on a bad note. After we retrieved the backpack and were back onour route to school, now 30min late, I apologized….first to GOD for breaking my lenten promise of not being so hard on the kids and to think before I speak or yell in this case. Then I apologized to the kids. I told them we were all at fault, we all need to take responsibility and have ownership of getting ourselves ready and out of the door on time. We talked, calmly, about how to make that happen as I listened to their sugestions and was pleased we could turn things around. next time we will all take ownership and getourselves out the door in a timely manner, hopefully with everything we need for the day. The one thing I dislike doingis rescuing the kids….I forgot my back pack, phone, life jacket, paper, lunch. But I continue to do it?! Maybe they need to suffer the consequences once in a while to learn from their mistakes.

    • You are absolutely right. As hard as it is to see our kids suffer, that is EXACTLY what they need to do in order to learn responsibility. Until they invent a Responsibility Pill which kids can take and magically be cured, consequences are your only hope for changing their behavior.

      I just always say, “I’m sorry.” As in, “I’m sorry, but your assignment will just have to be late,” and “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to go without lunch unless your friends take pity on you and throw some carrots your way.” No lecture, no ranting. Just apologizing – and holding firm.

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