Sandra Tsing Loh turns the clocks back to save some time in the morning.
As opposed to French moms or Tiger Moms, I am a C-minus mom. I’ve just been so tired since the first baby came, 12 years ago. I feel I’ve watched the mistakes occur in slow motion— Pasta flung on walls, blue Bic pen moustaches drawn on American Girl dolls, my I-Phone being reprogrammed to make only antique car sounds—aooogah! aoogah!
One result of my ineffectual parenting is that my 10 year old will NOT get into the car on time in the morning, no matter how much I reason, cajole, plead, threaten or shout. I am not even an ACTOR in Suzy’s world as she folds toilet paper into ever smaller squares or flosses with ever slower dreamy sawing motions. Then one afternoon I overhear her say: “Oh look on the microwave: it’s 2:35! Two plus three equals five!” While not a genius conclusion for a fifth grader, it did reveal her elaborate confidence—hubris!--in understanding numbers.
So without her seeing, I set all the clocks forward exactly seven minutes. And indeed, the next morning, I start shumpfing at Suzy as usual at 7:03, when I know it’s really 6:54. At 7:08 I do my usual hysterical “Now now now!”-- Even though I know it’s actually 7:01—
At which point I casually inform her I’m going to brush. . . my teeth.
And wouldn’t you know it, I brush long enough that a few minutes later comes a careful tap at the door. “Mo-o-om?” “Oh, we’ll get there when we get there,” I say breezily, “que sera sera.” When she asks what that means, I actually stop to water the flower pot on the front porch, singing a la Doris Day: “Que sera, sera-- Whatever will be, will be!”
We pull up to the bus stop and of course no one is THERE because we are seven minutes EARLY. I park. Turn off the car. Silence. The tremulous wail comes: “Mom? Can you. . . drive me to school? I don’t want to be late. I’m so-o-orry!”
At which point I turn around and begin speaking very very quietly. “Suzy? Isn’t it a bit like the world revolves around you, and you depend on everyone, your dad, your mom, your big sister, to come in and fix everything for you? Like all the time?” “Yes, I know.”
She didn’t even catch on when her schoolmates started showing up, and then the bus did. What I can say is that, for one brief shining moment thanks to lying, I felt what it was like to be a Parent in Command.
Then my I-Phone went off. Aoogah! Aoogah!