Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Running Home to the Babysitter

Miguel received his great-grandfather Kilgore's watch for Christmas. Will he be more on-time than his mother?

Tonight, belly and bladder full, I sprinted the final 4 blocks home to avoid returning late to the babysitter. On Tuesdays, Jessica watches Miguel 10:30am-8:30pm. It is the day that I do errands, wash my hair and have a date with my husband. Since she started in January, she has been late (ever so slightly) only twice. One of those times a huge snow storm was clogging up the entire city. The other was due to an emergency family situation. Usually she is early or right on time.

When I complimented her about her timeliness, she explained that she learned in high school that 15 minutes early is on time, and on time is late. Wow. I tend to live my life by the premise that if you haven't missed an airplane at least once, you're probably wasting time by getting to the airport early.

Usually, despite stellar intentions, I tend to run a little late. I do not mean to disregard the people who might be waiting for me. It's just that, like a toddler, I struggle with transitions. Whatever I am doing at any given moment fully engrosses and cements me--whether it's reading the vapid parts of the newspaper in the morning (making me late for work), or over-embellishing a grant application at the end of the work day (making me late for my family.)

I recall a conference I was organizing with a co-worker, someone who was slightly below me in terms of the "org chart" (and age), but years ahead of me in terms of professionalism. We had to be somewhere very early for set-up. I was late. Not wickedly late, maybe 15 minutes. But, when everything is tight, that's a long time, especially considering that I had vowed to be on time--and that it was my event. When I rolled in, I felt her frost. Later, after all was successfully, though stressfully, executed, we debriefed. She let me have it--in a professional way. At that moment, I realized I was the kind of person you could rely on--to be a little late. Ever since, I have worked to change this habit with little success and ever greater feelings of guilt.

Tonight, Michael and I pushed it by ordering dessert. We asked for the check with the tiramisu, but it didn't come. I kept looking at my watch. Michael, who is reliably on-time, and not nearly as fretful about all things, suggested we just call to say we might be a few minutes late. But we did that a few weeks ago. I don't want to keep being the type of person who can be relied on to be late. And so we power walked home along the bus lines. We weren't lucky--catching a mere 3 block lift on our final leg west.

So I broke all the rules about exercising after a meal and ran down Kimball in a desperate attempt to be home by 8:30 for for the wonderful woman who is always on time and who provides such loving, attentive care for our son.

I failed. The clock said 8:34. She was forgiving, Miguel was sleeping, and all I can do is try to be better next week.

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