Dear Readers: I recently ran a question from a reader who reported that her beloved daughter-in-law was chronically late. In my answer, I reflected on this common annoyance. I suggested that the MIL should speak with her frankly about it, continue with their on-time plans and take separate transportation to avoid frustration.
I’ve received hundreds of responses to this letter. With the holiday season approaching, I thought I would share readers’ experiences:
Dear Amy: I have struggled with time optimism (OK, chronic lateness) my entire life. I know it is disrespectful of others and I feel terrible when I am late.
I try to get seven things done when another person would recognize there is only time for five; I underestimate the traffic; I run back into the house for an item I forgot every time I leave the house (and sometimes several times).
I have two points to share for parents of disorganized children.
1) Try not to yell when you are already late. I’m already anxious, and the yelling means every thought falls right out of my head. Wait for a quieter moment to correct the late child.
2) Try to teach your child to break down the process of leaving the house into steps. This will be obvious to you but less obvious to those of us who are easily distracted: “We’re leaving in 15 minutes. Did you pack your bag? Do you know where your coat is? Where are your keys? Do you have a water bottle?”
As she gets older, try, “We’re leaving in 15 minutes. Tell me what you need to do before we get out the door.”
Dear Amy: I used to run 20 to 30 minutes late for everything. I rationalized that I was just busy. One day, a close and brave friend confronted me when I was late for lunch.
“I cherish our time together, but your chronic tardiness is rude and beneath you,” he said. “And the unavoidable conclusion is that you think your time is more valuable than mine. Please think about it.”
I did, and although it took some time to break habits, I changed ... to my great benefit.
Dear Amy: My ex-husband was always late to social functions, and he’d make a scene by loudly blaming me to the other guests.
Since we had two vehicles, I started departing on time in the car, and he got to drive up late in the ratty old pickup truck. It soon broke him of his chronic lateness.
Dear Amy: I also have a chronically late relative: my sister. In 60-plus years, good old, “Slow-Stop-and-Reverse” hasn’t changed.
But I have learned never to ask her to bring the appetizers.
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