Procrastination and Parenting Don’t Mix

Don’t you hate it when your kids mirror the traits you least like about yourself? I had a frustrating week with my 9-year-old, Aden, as we struggled to complete a social studies project.

I say” we”  because—who are we kidding here—when your kid waits til the last-minute to get a 2 week project done, who’s doing much of the work?

It’s actually a cool project on immigration. He had to create a fictional person starting a new life in America, and write three postcards telling a family member in his home country about his experiences.  If we had taken our time, it might have been a lovely bonding experience with lessons about American history and our family tree.

Instead, we failed a test in time management as we crammed the project into two afternoons, punctuated by tears and meltdowns (mine and his.)

When he brought the project directions home, I thought it looked manageable but put it off until the weekend because we had games and other activities all week. The first weekend came and went with more baseball, soccer, and parties. Frankly, I forgot about it, and Aden certainly wasn’t reminding me when he was in the basement playing Xbox.

During the second week I asked him to take a look at it several times. He resisted. He may have rifled through the 13-page directions packet and gotten intimidated.  I forgot that what’s feasible for me, is not the same for a 9-year-old boy who would rather be playing than focusing on Irving Dubinsky’s travels from Poland to New York.

On Friday afternoon when he came home from school, he had several hours to start the project. He said he needed a break and a snack. I got distracted doing work so an hour later when I prodded him again, he was already in the backyard playing two-square. It was 72 degrees and sunny and seemed like every kid in the neighborhood was enjoying the Friday vibe. I was doomed.

In hindsight, he needed to start it early so he had direction and wasn’t so daunted by sitting down, reading through all the material, coming up with the character, and starting to write.  I should have made him do 30 minutes each day after school, or over the first weekend.  I should have told him he could not play Friday until he had an outline and part one finished.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

I didn’t have it in me to fight him (he’s my stubborn, sensitive one.) I also didn’t push him because of my own tendencies to procrastinate challenging tasks.  I wait until the last-minute on bills, school forms, thank you notes, doctor appointments– anything that’s even mildly unpleasant.

And now I’m passing on that lovely trait to my son.  There’s nothing worse than finding yourself in a sucky parenting situation that you’ve created yourself.

We muddled through the huddled masses and I yearned to be free of the immigrants. The project actually turned out ok.  Aden created Irving and wrote most of the postcards. I honestly don’t care what grade he gets. Just finishing was enough.

My grade is a “D” for dawdling.

5 responses to “Procrastination and Parenting Don’t Mix

  1. Thanks for all your comments. Nice to know I am not alone! We are all just one poster board away from mommy meltdown!

  2. Brooke, did you write my autobiography?? Every single bit of it? And now we have Invention Convention??!!! Ugh…

  3. I just want you to know…we had four nights for that same project. I was wishing for a weekend but maybe it would have made the whole thing more painful. Summer is coming…

  4. Laurie Zlotnick

    I was just thinking to myself about how much I can’t stand the very thing about myself that my son was doing so perfectly this evening. Sigh.