black marks · children · children's time · Parenting · time

The Importance of Time

Recently Number One got a black mark from his teacher. Nothing unusual about that. It happens regularly for talking in class, dawdling with his exercises and all the usual misbehaviour of a bored six year old. Generally he doesn’t take offence. But this time he was angry about it. 
Number One has a very strong sense of justice and if he feels he has been unjustly treated, he can get quite irate. The black mark he had been given was for leaving the classroom to look for his teacher. She hadn’t come back to class after the bell rang at the end of lunchtime. He didn’t see why that warranted a black mark.
My initial reaction was to defend the teacher. “You can’t just go wandering round the school. The teacher will come back when she’s ready”.
Over the next week or so my mind kept returning to that conversation. The more I thought about it, the more I agreed with what my son had done. If it had been my son who didn’t return to the classroom after the bell had rung, there would have been trouble. The teacher would have gone to look for him and would have reminded him that when the bell rings, class resumes. He’d have got a black mark for that too. Why, I asked myself, should there be one rule for the teachers and another for the students? Isn’t a child’s time as valuable as a teacher’s?
We are all familiar with bosses who think their time is worth more than ours or queue skippers who feel that for some reason or other the queing system doesn’t apply to them. Most of us hate that behaviour, so why do we persist in treating our children’s time as less important than ours? How often have you told your child to hurry up or to stop playing because you have something to do or somewhere to go?  I know I do it more often than I’d like to. The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that we as parents take our children’s precious time and use it whatever way we like and that’s not really fair.
In a post I wrote back in February, I mentioned how I was reminded how easy it is say “yes” instead of “not now”. The situation with Number One and his teacher has given me another jolt and made me think twice before telling my children we don’t have time for whatever it is they want to do. Quite often we could make a bit of time. 
So the other morning when Number One wanted to listen to his Famous Five CD before school, I held back on saying “We don’t have time for that before school”. Instead I let him eat his cereal at the coffee table and listen to his CD. He listened as he ate and when the time came to switch it off, he didn’t complain. He put on his shoes, jacket and schoolbag and went off to school happily, having used his pre-school half hour they way he wanted to.

The Twinkle Diaries

14 thoughts on “The Importance of Time

  1. Wow this really stopped me in my tracks! I am conscious of trying to say “yes” instead of “no” but I haven't really thought about owning their time and dictating what they do – I need to keep an eye on this. Great post!

  2. Thanks Andrea. Obviously there are some thigns that have to be done – school, etc.- but other than that I do feel the kids should have a say in how their time is used.
    Thanks for reading. I'm really pleased it made you think.

  3. As a mum to a really strong willed child I have to do this a lot. I find that my son is a lot calmer and well behaved if he feels he has some sort of control/choice. Which is understandable really! In regards to the missing teacher, I think the fact your son went to find her is admirable and I don't think he should have received a black mark. Bless him x

  4. Thanks Louise. I think you are on to something good with your child.
    I notice a difference in my older two (almost 7 and almost 5) when they are master of their own time for a while each day. The are more balanced.

  5. It is so important to give our kids some degree of control. I have to agree with your son. Seems that he was the responsible one in the story. Thanks for linking with #TwinklyTuesday.

  6. THank you Sadia! I think so too. When I listened to his side of the story again, I found he had taken the initiative rather than sit around and wait.

  7. Fab post, thanks for pointing me to it. We are a non driving family, and we also go out and about a lot, which means often running out of the door to catch a train. I've had enough of it, and made a decision this weekend that we will be moving at a much slower pace, doing more of what the kids want to do over the summer… I'm pretty sure I won't get any objections from them!

  8. I'm sure they will love it Renee. I've taken to reminding them at 5 to 10 minute intervals when we do have to go out (e.g. school or other appointments) so that they are not being torn from a game or book and forced to put on shoes and leave. So as I get organised, I say “You've ten more minutes to play, then loo, shoes on and off we go to ……”. I find it helps .

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