I hate to be late.

I hate to be late.


My son has been known to joke, “Mom would rather be an hour early than five minutes late.” He’s not entirely wrong.


I hate to be late.


Since I’m pretty organized about getting myself and the children ready, I usually feel on top of these things. I allow abundant time for the potty and sips of water and snacks and shoe-tying. This is not my first rodeo.


But sometimes I forget how much little eyes can discover. I forget how little hands are drawn to buttercups. I forget that dancing butterflies can quickly distract one from the path. I forget that a newly formed puddle merits exploration.


C’mon, c’mon, guys! Let’s go– we’ll be late!”


I hate to be late.


And they hustle. “Okay, Mommy!” Resilient, sweet little souls, they happily abandon their discoveries to prance on to the car with their mama. They know I’ve got this time thing down.


And that I hate to be late.


It was Sunday afternoon and we had baseball practice. I’d sent them all on out to the car ahead of me with instructions to leave the doors open until I got there– it was hot out. I grabbed my purse, slipped on my flip-flops, and tossed a quick goodbye over my shoulder.


We had ten minutes– the perfect amount of time to get to the ballfield. He’d be right on time and the girls and I wouldn’t be sitting around for a bunch of extra minutes. Perfect.


I skipped over to strap her in her car seat. And I saw.


She was in her seat. She’d even slipped her arms in like I’d taught her, just waiting for me to latch it. But her wide green eyes were filled with tears. ¬†One silky brown braid was stuck to a damp cheek. Her rosy lower lip quivered.


“Sweetheart, what’s WRONG?” I asked her.


The tears fell in earnest then.


“I forgot it,” she sobbed. “You told me it was my job to remember it, but I forgot it.”


It’s such a little thing, really, that purple backpack. She thinks she’s hot stuff when she packs it up with treasures and toys to share with her friends at baseball practice. She chooses the contents so very carefully and bounces with excitement when she talks about what they’ll play with the wide array of items.


Nine minutes.


I hate to be late.


And I wiped her cheeks. I realized I had a chance to do something right here. I had a chance to let go of my pride in “never being late” and offer a little grace to a sweet little girl who realized she had done what I so often do myself– she’d simply forgotten something.


“Well, I guess you’d better run back in and get it then,” I told her.


Her already big eyes grew wider. “I can get it?”


“You can get it.”


And she scampered up our front steps, pigtails flying.


We were late to practice.


I still hate to be late.


But, when it comes to questions of eternal significance, I’m willing to answer, “And, were you ever late?” with…


“Yes. And I made a three-year-old’s day.”

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5 comments to I hate to be late.

  • mlearley

    Great reminder that our children are very impressionable and that how we respond will affect them for years to come. I’m trying so much harder not to yell all the time but to have conversations. These kids are only little once and how we respond/talk to them is how they will react with others around them. Thanks!

  • Susan

    Such a sweet story.

  • Laraba

    Oh, powerful! Really, such a little thing makes such a BIG difference in a child’s life. I too hate to be late and…I confess I take some pride in USUALLY getting 8 kids somewhere on time. But yes, sometimes we ARE late. I have one real slowpoke who often stops and starts reading a book, or realizes at the last minute that she needs to use the bathroom. I confess I have gotten impatient with her on occasion…may the Lord help me to remember how YOUNG she is.

    On the topic of being late, I should also say that more than once I’ve been ON TIME somewhere, only to discover that one of my darlings forgot to put on his/her shoes!

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