10 Minutes Can Be Worth an Eternity, or Why I Always Arrive Late at Work
A Tale of School Drop-Offs and The Real Value of Time
"Buddy," I said to my 9-year-old son, "I'm late for work..."
Glancing at the rearview mirror, I saw a tiny smile beginning to grace his face. He knew what was coming.
"I can't stop the car, but you know the drill, right?”
He adjusted his position on his seat.
“I'll just slow down, and you'll jump, okay?" He chuckled, and immediately turned his face towards the window, avoiding the eye contact that would surely make him laugh harder.
"Remember," I told him, "dive with your right shoulder to the front, and roll your body as soon as you hit the ground." His face was adorned by a radiant smile, lightened up by the morning sunlight. Only his eyes remained veiled in shadow, sheltered beneath the brim of his trusty Pokemon cap.
He grabbed his bag and assumed the jumping position, left hand hovering over the seatbelt buckle, poised to release it.
I ended my theatrical scream at the same time I parked the car.
As I opened the car door to help him out, he finally looked me in the eyes, surrendering to the fact that jokes like that still amuse him.
It wasn’t the first time we had done that, as being late to the office had practically become part of my job description.
My son’s school is only five minutes away from our home and a mere twenty minutes from my office, so thankfully there’s no need for us to rise at an ungodly hour.
But if Cyril Northcote Parkinson claims that work expands so as to fill the time for its completion, I claim that getting a kid ready for school expands so as to fill half of my morning.
Today was no exception.
Our routine is well-oiled, though: waking up, dad jokes, getting dressed, shouting, breakfast, light threatening, brushing teeth, school bag, car keys, wallet, the indispensable Pokemon cap, and saying goodbye to his mother.
Everything was going as usual.
We headed to the front door, petted the dog that was already there waiting for us, left the house, headed to the car, and got in.
“Ok, half an hour to drop him at school and to get to work, I can do this…” A voice from the back seat interrupted my thoughts:
"Oh, I forgot my lunch bag!"
"Aargh!" - Running upstairs to grab his lunch bag and getting back into the car in 45 seconds. Daily cardio: ✔️
“Ok, let’s go.”
The five-minute trip was silent. I looked stressed for sure, so he must have thought it would be better to be quiet.
As I entered the long avenue of the school, I could only see what looked like a long river of fiery eyes staring at me. An endless line of cars, and their brake lights painting my morning in red.
I looked at the time on the car panel. Late to work: ✔️
From what I could see in other cars around me, frustration and despair seemed to be dominant. I wasn't feeling that happy either, but then I turned my head and saw my son looking out through the window, looking melancholic.
My chest tightened. How could I prefer to be at work rather than spend time with my son?
I had the opportunity to be alone with him, without smartphones or computers in the way, what was I waiting for?
“How’s your YouTube Channel?” I asked, knowing that that would spike his interest.
The melancholy vanished in that instant as if it were a thin veil covering his face and I had opened the window next to him.
For the next 10 minutes, he told me about the videos he made of him playing My Singing Monsters, how he was helping this YouTuber grow her channel by posting comments and sharing her videos, and what kinds of videos he wanted to make in the future.
I told him I would help him, and I felt he wanted to get up from his seat and hug me.
We passed the most congested zone, and I pondered the value of those 10 minutes, nearly wasted on my complaints about being late.
To the many parents that I saw that morning raging against the traffic, I just wanted to say “Stop! Look at who you’re bringing on your back seat, and realize how privileged you are for having the chance to spend time with them”.
I don’t mind arriving late to the office every day.
It allows me to spend time with my son, to know him better, and to accompany his growth.
And it also gives me the chance to say things like “Buddy, I’m late for work…”
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