Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tips The Parenting Magazines Won't Tell You: Plausible Excuses for Being Late

Parenting magazines like to focus on strategies to prevent you from running late, but we at Lunch Box Mom think it’s much more useful to simply gather a collection of plausible excuses.

The most effective approach for the office is to be completely honest. This works beautifully, as long as you remember to omit pertinent details.

I am so incredibly sorry (I had to come to work today.)

The traffic was horrendous (between the trash cans and big wheels in my driveway.)

I’ve never seen the trains that messed up (but, then again, Curious George was station master for most of the episode.)

The opposite of omission is to offer too much information, making your lack of tactfulness much more noteworthy than your lack of punctuality.

I thought it was just lice, but apparently there are other kinds of bugs that --you will be cut off here.

It’s the stomach flu, which is interesting, because I’ve had to get apple juice off my keyboard before but never – the other person may leave the room.

It was my fault, clearly, for thinking I could wear white the second day of her potty training, especially when she’d just -the other person may ask you to leave the room.

When the stakes are high, dig deep into your innate (although perhaps still dormant) parental gifts and elicit both sympathy and guilt from your listener:

On the plus side, it’s remarkably easy to get a good parking spot when you go to the ER at 4am with a double ear infection.

I’ve gotten very good at changing a flat tire on the highway, especially now that it’s not just my life at stake.

There’s some water damage, but generally, I’m grateful for the fire in the toaster oven. How else would I have known where the kids had hidden my keys?

Similarly, extrapolating inflated consequences can work wonders. We call this the Superman or Wonder Woman defense, but to be clear, you do not need to wear a cape.

Instead of: we had to get our flu shots, you say: I was preventing a pandemic.

Instead of: I finally took four months of recycling to the curb, you say: I just single-handedly saved a rainforest.

Instead of: We have only one pair of Minnie Mouse slippers and two girls under the age of five, you say: CNN might not care that I brokered world peace, but I know it, and that’s enough for me right now.

We don’t usually recommend physical impalement, but with the right amount of finesse you can accomplish these with little or no long-term damage. No one will ask you why you’re late, when timeliness appears to be the least of your problems:

While cutting the crusts off of slices of bread, simply nick the corner of your finger. Bandage excessively, before entering office.

While playing catch with your daughter, teach her to throw the ball as fast as she can at the body part of your choice. Limp appropriately.

Cover eye with son’s pirate eye patch. Carry tube of Erythromycin.

Lastly, using eyeliner, paint dark circles under your eyes and place copies of Ferber, Weissbluth and other sleep guru books around your office. For a lucky few, no staging or eyeliner will be necessary.

Knowing how to apologize, or deflect attention from your tardiness, is as essential a parenting skill has swaddling a newborn or effectively grounding a teenager. Sure, you could set your alarm clock an hour earlier, but remember, it’s not when you wake up, but when you get everyone out of the house that matters most. And, even with the best intentions, if you’re a parent, you’ll probably find yourself leaving at exactly the same time every day: ten minutes later than you had hoped.


Sonja Milbourn said...

I've been found. Where were these fantastic excuses these past 19 years I've been arriving to work at 8:10am?
Another award-winning article, Sarah!

Tim Morrissey said...

I've forwarded a link to this post to my sister-in-law, who will find it extremely useful! Loved it!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! And I agree 100% - no matter how early I get up, I'm still late for work. Which is why I now hit the snooze button a few times. If I'm going to be late anyway, I might as well sleep a bit longer.

Fran said...

oh how i do adore this particular post as i've had to purchase a mobile tally counter (yes, for how many words that it takes me to respond) because i live in the parentheses! i feel really okay about it now.