Have you ever taken kids to a café, restaurant or pretty much anywhere that has required them to wait for something? I recently took my daughter, son and nephew out for breakfast as a school holiday treat. They wanted Belgian waffles from their favourite café.
It was a little busy when we arrived, however we were seated quickly and ordered. It didn’t take long for the inevitable questions to start. ‘How long will our waffles take?’ my son asked. Like most children mine have developed a strange but understandable assumption that I know everything, that I am somehow tapped into a deeper understanding of the space time continuum in a way that they are not yet able to access. To them it must seem like I have my own internal WiFi connection and I’m not sharing the password. This connection, they assume, allows me to answer questions that are otherwise impossible to answer. In this case I clearly have no way of knowing how long the waffles will be. I’m not working in the kitchen, I’m not employed by the café, I don’t know how many orders are before us, I don’t know how long it actually takes to plate up the waffles and carry them out to our table. But of course they think I should know.
It’s at these moments I see I have a clear choice. I can 1) get annoyed and be cranky or 2) I can make them think. If I’m doing my job as a parent correctly, then I should always choose to make them think.
‘I don’t know,’ I reply. ‘Do you have a stop watch on your phone?’ I ask.
‘Yes,’ my son replies.
‘Then start it now and when the waffles arrive you will know how long it takes.’
My daughter at least is amused and starts her stop watch. My nephew smiles with an expression of understanding that I’ve said something that makes sense but frustration that it doesn’t answer his question and my son rolls his eyes but starts his stop watch anyway.
I relax as my coffee arrives and we all wait expectantly for the waffles. Occasionally they glance at their stop watches but they don’t ask me again how long it will take now they are in charge of measuring the reality. We are free to discuss other topics and I begin to wonder if this is a one-time winner for me or if I can add it to my parental war chest for future use. Only time, measured on a stop watch, will tell.
Author - Road To Nowhere