I say the words, “Wait,” “Not now,” and “Later” for about an hour straight to my son, the eager toddler who can’t stop offering games and toys to me. He doesn’t understand that I’m trying to get us out the door for church.
Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes there’s whining. Sometimes he simply persists: “This. This. This. This. This. This.” He waves his finger at a stuffed animal, a drum set, a train, or a play table.
Up and down the steps we go as I hunt for wipes, food cups, and diapers. He doesn’t want to leave my side. This is typical for the morning. We usually play together most mornings. We usually have all of the time in the world. I let him scamper up and down the steps as we sing, “Up-stairs” or “Down-stairs” together. But it’s Sunday, so I’m hauling him around and he wiggles and squirms in my arms, eager to charge around with me.
He doesn’t understand what the rush is. He doesn’t like being pulled away from one toy after another as I put my shoes on, fill up his juice, and track down the right jacket for him.
By the time I’m working on his diaper bag and still looking for wipes, he’s had enough. He’s standing on the couch because he knows that standing on the couch is off limits. He knows I’ll come rushing over to pull him down.
We had entered the no-win vortex where I either can’t get out the door because my child wants me to pay attention to him or I can’t stop my child from standing on the perilous edge of the couch as I pack a bag for church. I pulled him down and went back to the bag, but he scampered right back up and looked right at me.
I pulled him down again, and he repeated his actions. I tried to redirect him to another toy. I just needed 60 SECONDS TO FINISH. JUST. 60. SECONDS. But when children reach their limit, they don’t want to hear “wait” or “get down” one more time. He doesn’t understand what 60 seconds are. They may as well be a million.