I am tired of my day being changed around at the last minute because of other people's kids. In the last two days I've had my time completely disrespected three different times due to other people’s kids or grand kids. I say “quit using your progeny as an excuse for bad manners, leaving other people hanging, and disrespecting other people’s time.”
A friend I rarely get to see alone (without husbands in tow) came by the house to visit a few minutes after we’d been to lunch with a small group of women. Within 5 minutes one of her grandchildren called to talk – a grandchild she talks to almost every single day. The grandchild asked “What are you doing,” and she replied “I am visiting for a few minutes with my friend Sue.” The grandchild has no thought in her head to say “Oh, you’re busy, will you call me when you are on the way home?” The grandparent has no thought to say, “I am busy right now, I’ll call you in about half an hour.” The situation is not urgent (although everything is urgent in the eyes of this particular grandchild, I have come to learn over the years). The friend talks for 10 minutes and hangs up. We start to talk. Same grandchild calls AGAIN, knowing full well that her grandmother is still visiting. The grandmother doesn't cut her off, she talks for 10 minutes and hangs up a second time. We again start to talk. The same grandchild calls yet a third time and my friend stands up and says “I have to see what my grandchild wants, I will just call you later,” and she leaves. That was yesterday.
Today, my housekeeper texts me and says “can I come a little late; I need to take the boys to the doctor.” I say “sure” thinking they are sick. She normally comes about 8:30 AM. It is now almost 1:00 PM and she just called to say “would you believe it has taken this long to get two little boys approved to play football next year in school?” She wants to know can she come at 4:00 PM to clean my house. I had agreed to the later arrival time (meaning a few hours) to accommodate sick kids, not to accommodate school football physicals. From my standpoint, I've been up since 5:30 AM working and have friends coming for dinner, to what was SUPPOSED to be a clean house. How do her kids needing a football physical translate to my day being completely turned around? Can her spouse not take them? Can she not take them another day?
Also today, a friend and colleague who wanted to “run ideas by me” (we often help each other out) had requested some of my time, and we set up 1:00 to talk. As the day went on, my husband asked “shall I take you to lunch today?” I say “no, I have this call.” So we sit down to eat our sandwiches and I get a text “so sorry things have gotten busy and I am slammed with the kids, I will have to cancel.” To my mind, she was the one who wanted to talk to begin with. I made the commitment and turned down a chance for lunch to make the call. She can’t tell her kids to settle down for half an hour or go play with her spouse, apparently.
Here’s the deal – corral your kids and grand kids and quit standing people up and using your kids as excuses to be thoughtless, or even rude. Just because both you and your kids have cell phones doesn't mean that every need is instantaneous. Quit expecting others to not mind when their day is substantially changed because you let your world revolve around your kids (or grand kids).
Usually when I attempt to talk about this I get the “well you don't have kids/grand kids you just don't understand.” You're right, I don't. I don’t understand why you have absolutely no awareness that running your life by the whims of your kids has an impact on those around you.
About a week ago I went to get a hair cut and ended up in a chair next to another hairdresser who had a woman in her chair and 3 small children on the floor around her feet. The kids chattered, yelled, and threw things the entire time I sat there. The hairdresser could barely move around to cut the woman's hair for fear of stepping on a child. Instead of an hour getting my hair cut and styled that I could relax and enjoy I had to watch and listen to 3 kids who are out of school who were very obviously in the way of the hairdresser trying to get her work done. No one dared to say a word. When the women trailed off to sit under a dryer her kids didn't want to get up and leave with her. So she actually said to the hairdresser “they won't bother you for your next client, will they?”
Don't go thinking I hate kids. I don't. But I don't want my life changed because you decided to reproduce and then trained your children that no matter what, they get your time and attention, that the plans that you made with other people count for nothing. You have trained your children that they have 100% sway over your life. Personally, I don’t think that makes for good citizens of the world in the future. And in the moment, it makes for children who can't take “wait a minute” as an option and for parents who use their children as an excuse for being thoughtless and disrespectful of other people's time.
I'd love to hear what you think. Coaching-wise I can't tell you the number of times I've had people end their time with me early or forego it entirely because they failed to plan for their kids to be occupied while they worked on their business. It definitely impacts how they move forward – in fact, 9 out of 10 don't. Their children become their excuse. Truly sad – because that child could definitely use a successful business owner as a model.