Every time I want to sit down for a minute, my son transforms into a loud and demanding body of energy. “Daddy, build a train track for me. Daddy, let’s go ride my bike. Daddy, I need some juice. Daddy, get down on the floor so I can ride you like a horse. Daddy, tell me everything I just asked you. I forgot some of them.”
So why should it be so surprising that every time I need him to do something, he automatically switches into super-slow gear? It’s not surprising. I’ve been at this game long enough to know just what to expect.
Of course, he’s going to drag his feet when asked to do something he doesn’t want to do. Getting ready for bed is the prime example. He crawls up the stairs like a commando – one who has been shot in both legs. He carefully inspects the potty to make sure it is a worthy receptacle for his pee. He unscrews the toothpaste cap as if it were rusted tight from years of disuse. His nightlight, pajamas, pillow, and 18 blankets must be perfectly arranged. This takes a certain amount of dedication, and a larger amount of time.
I don’t begrudge his efforts to put off bedtime. That plan makes perfect sense. What tries my patience is his pokiness in doing things he enjoys. Going to the park is great fun. There are two things he must do before leaving the house. He must go pee and put on his shoes. It has been this way for the balance of his lifetime, and yet . . .
No matter where he is in the house, there are two dozen distractions between him and the potty. His shoes are in the exact same place they were yesterday, and the day before that, but he’ll be damned if he can find them. Getting them onto his feet is the easy part, if you are willing to pretend with him that he doesn’t know which shoe goes on which foot. This, I remind you, is an outing for which he is most eager.
Likewise, you might expect him to dance around his plate when served a food he doesn’t like. But why must he restrict himself to three bites per hour of his favorite meals? He only likes to use one prong of his fork at a time. We have to start him early on dinner if we don’t want to leave him sitting alone into the night. The only food he will chew at a normal rate is shrimp tempura, which Daddy cannot afford to supply every time there is something to do after lunch.
It can get tiring, shepherding him through his slow-motion routines. After a while, Daddy needs to sit down. There must be a switch in the cushions of the sofa that turns the boy’s juice back up to full blast. It works every time: “Daddy, you have to chase me. Daddy, let’s play in the sprinkler. Daddy . . .”