I’ve been putting off writing this post — just kidding.
How many of us are lifelong procrastinators? It starts with delaying brushing your teeth when you’re five, progresses to waiting until the hour before it’s due to type your term paper, matures to waiting until the last possible day to pay your bills, and concludes with the ultimate procrastinatory act — hanging onto a last thread of life when you should have died weeks ago.
I am guilty. Yes, I am. Have I passed this gene onto my daughter, or is it just something that comes naturally to her? Or just something that comes naturally to teenagers, as a way of expressing their independence?
She has become a “just a sec” person. You ask her to do something and it’s “hold on”, “just a sec” or “in a minute”. What to do with this behavior? Yelling seems pointless. Punishment doesn’t work. I am on the fence about it because I KNOW it’s one of the few ways she has to express that she guides her own life at this age. And because I spent so many years not saying “how high?” when my ex said “jump.”
She had a project due today. She’d had it for a month – read a book, do something creative to show the content, and answer eight questions. She started one book, and switched to a different one midstream – I can understand that – it happens. Especially when the first book is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. But I told her last week that I did not want her finishing this at midnight on Tuesday night. She’s had plenty of time. So what did she do? She finished it at 11:00 last night. Perhaps I was not specific enough?
I told her yesterday that for the next project, things were going to be different. I don’ t know HOW things are going to be different, just that I need to do something to try to drill some conscientious homework discipline into her.
And then I ask myself why I feel the need to be drill-sargeant in this area. Do I have any right to, since I was the one who stayed up all night typing term papers until the ten-minute mark to class? Am I trying to keep her from the discomfort of my own experience? Am I trying to help her succeed? She’s had straight A’s for years. And some people do their best work under pressure – I’m one of them (at times) – perhaps she is as well.
I’m not a control freak Mom – in fact, I’m about the farthest thing from it. I’ve got more of the hippie approach – live and let live, make your own mistakes, etc. And I don’ t really feel that putting me off with “just a sec” is disrespectful (although her dad does.) Maybe it’s that I want her to understand that some things, like your work, deserve a certain level of importance and attention. She’ll find other things in life that do too, things that should not be treated with the same cavalier attitude, the attitude which implies that something else matters more than the task that duty requires. Being a bit verbose, aren’t I? I guess I’m trying to work this out in my own head.
It may tie to my pet peeve of taking responsibility for your own actions, your own things. It may be one of those lessons she’ll have to learn on her own when it backfires on her and she DOESN’T get the grades she so prides herself on. Either way, I suppose I need to let her own the problem (as my buddy says), but that’s not what Moms do – though maybe it’s what they need to do.
I was going to say that I trust that she’ll figure out what’s most important, and I was thinking that means work and duty and conforming to the requirements of society and adulthood. Huh. To that, I say “Bah!” and perhaps “Pah!”. She’s already got her priorities straight. Do your best, love the people around you, make time for nature and friends and follow your own star. Isn’t that exactly what I’m fighting to do now that I am breaking out of the corporate coffin? And isn’t that what we want our kids to do? I don’t want her to be CEO of Nestle (though that would imply all the chocolate I want). I just want her to be happy and independent and comfortable in every sense of the word. I want her to be able to toss her hat up in the air, having made it on her own.
Just the things I have been procrastinating about for the last fifteen years. Go figure.