I'm Late, I'm Late ...

Feb 10, 2018

I recently read someone saying that they were late all the time, but that they didn’t mind that, because it meant that whoever they were meeting was already there.

It made me re-think my own ideas about lateness.

I’ve always been an obsessively punctual person, preferring to be an hour early, rather than risk being ten minutes late. From I know not where I seem to have been brought up to believe that lateness is at least a little rude and at worst inconsiderate and selfish (although I should point out that I have several friends who are habitually tardy, and I do not love them any less for it - at least they are consistent).

However, it suddenly struck me that perhaps the lateness habit has its roots in a kind of insecurity. Perhaps those of us who can never be on time are, in fact, terrified by the prospect of having to spend time alone waiting for their fellow meetee. Even in these days of having the means to occupy and distract ourselves permanently on our person, it can be daunting, especially in a public place, to be solitary. Without any control over when this state of affairs will cease.

So then I got to thinking about applying this premise to the behaviours of children. Could it be possible that we misunderstand certain disruptive behaviours as sheer bloody mindedness, when in fact they hide deep seated insecurities?

In schools, I have known children who seem totally unable to adhere to schedules and timetables, but perhaps this is because on arrival they need to see others in the place where they should be, to reassure them that they’re in the right place at more or less the right time, rather than be the first to arrive and have to deal with questioning themselves as to whether they’ve understood and correctly followed the instructions.

It may be that this is another example of us assuming that our children have the same faculties as adults, and that their shortcomings are equitable with those of ourselves.

We all know the awkwardness of being the first to arrive at the party, imagine how much more exaggerated experiences similar to this must be for little ones, especially the shy ones and those a little lacking in self confidence.

The same may be true of their parents.

So, I’m trying to train myself to be less judgemental, and to try to find the time to have a conversation with those children, to find out if it’s possible to use this aspect of our social mores to help them overcome their insecurities and have more faith in themselves and their abilities.

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