We used to be punctual.
Then we had kids.
Now, we’re late to pretty much everything. Whether it’s a playdate at the park or a parent-teacher conference at preschool, you can bank on us pulling into the parking lot at least five minutes behind schedule.
In an effort to reverse this trend, I recently conducted a thorough analysis of the flaws in our family’s time management. After weeks of rigorous research and tireless study, I concluded that the primary culprit in our punctuality plight was an undersized female with devastating powers.
And I’m not talking about our 2-year-old.
No, I’m talking about the shoe fairy.
The Shoe Fairy
For those of you not familiar with her work, the shoe fairy is the less-publicized twin of the ever-popular tooth fairy. Consumed with jealously over the endless media attention surrounding her sister, the shoe fairy rains havoc and destruction on the homes of unsuspecting parents worldwide by stealing the shoes of small children. In our family, we curse her handiwork every day as we scramble to find Addy’s gray boots or Junior’s light-up Star Wars shoes.
The most nefarious part of her despicable plan is that she waits to pilfer our shoe stash until we’re running behind. A classic example of this tactic is the ongoing case of the missing soccer cleats. In our home, it’s a proven fact that whenever Junior has soccer practice, he’ll come racing down the stairs five minutes before we have to leave and announce, “I can’t find my cleats!”
After ripping our house to pieces, we inevitably decide he’ll just have to wear his tennis shoes. Of course, by the time he finds those and gets them on, we’re already five minutes late to a practice that’s 10 minutes away.
The Shoe Fairy’s Partner in Crime
We can’t blame all our problems on the shoe fairy. She does have help.
One of her closest allies is the forgetful elf, a twisted and evil magician. This master of the dark arts specializes in casting spells of forgetfulness over the minds of small children whenever their parents have to get somewhere in a hurry.
A perfect example of his devastation occurred the other day when, just before hopping into the shower, I said to Junior, “I need you to be dressed by the time I’m done.”
You experienced parents out there are chuckling because you know perfectly well how this is going to play out. And, as you expect, when I got out of the shower, Junior wasn’t dressed. In fact, he hadn’t even begun to look for clothes. Instead, he’d spent the last 10 minutes playing cars.
Although his actions were entirely predictable, they still irked me and I said, “Junior, what happened? You were supposed to be getting ready.”
His response, “I forgot.”
I thought, “Really? You forgot? That’s what you’re going with? You can remember promises I made three months ago, give perfectly accurate directions to anywhere you’ve ever been in your entire life, and rattle off every story about Jesus in the entire Bible. And you forgot?”
As my parental frustration mounted, it suddenly struck me that maybe he did forget. After all, when you’ve got an evil sorcerer working against you and your family, anything is possible.
The Final Member of the Gang
Rounding out the shoe fairy’s gang is the ever mischievous loitering leprechaun. His super power is the ability to cause even the most active of children to stand around doing nothing, particularly when their parents are trying to get them in the car.
His attacks are especially devastating to our family when we’ve valiantly defeated his comrades in arms with a few minutes to spare. On those rare occasions, Sam and I often instruct the kids to get their seatbelts on while we run around the house turning off lights.
Because literally every light in our house is typically on, we usually flip the last switch just seconds before we need to be backing out the driveway. As we race to the car, we envision the kids buckled up, ready to go and we think: We did it! Today is the day! We’re actually going to be on time!
Then we see the kids. Standing in the exact same place they were five minutes ago. Addy and Junior – two children who spend practically every waking moment running, jumping, dancing, spinning, or moving in some way, shape, or form – haven’t moved an inch.
Nor will they, no matter how much we beg and plead. Once the loitering leprechaun grabs hold of their young, impressionable minds, those kids won’t budge unless we physically pick them up.
And, of course, by the time we get our two deadweight kids into car seats, we’re running late, yet again.