Once upon a time, in the era of fables and fairy tales, a young man named Aesop was walking through the woods when he discovered an unusual looking tree with a hollowed out trunk. As Aesop climbed in to inspect this strange opening, he suddenly found himself in the distant future, where he met two young children named Ruby and Edward. Ruby and Edward lived with their father, a blogger named Tenor Dad, their mother, and a puppy named for a cartoon princess. Aesop had wonderful adventures with the children, and when it became time to leave, he returned to his own time through the same portal from which he had first arrived, making it home safe and sound. He never told anyone of these strange adventures (for who would have believed him?), but he did write down a story based on the two young children, which he called “The Tortoise and the Hare.”
At least I assume that’s what happened. Because I have, in my house, the fastest, and the slowest, children on the planet. One drags her feet at every turn, complaining constantly about being rushed, while the other can never be truly seen in focus, as he is a constant blur of motion, whizzing by through your peripheral vision. This can be somewhat frustrating to their normal-speed father.
I do not walk anywhere with my children. I go on walks with them, but I am never with them. The boy is always fifty paces ahead of me, while the girl is fifty behind. “Slow down! Wait for us!” I shout to the boy, to no avail. “Hurry up! Your brother is getting away!” I call back to the girl, which only produces more whining and complaining about being tired and rushed. So I walk between them, invisibly tethered to them both. It’s even worse when we are on bikes.
Every morning I am greeted by a bouncing child kicking me in the somethings, smiling, yelling, and ready to go at top speed. Meanwhile his sister must be coaxed out of bed and slowly coerced into getting dressed, which she does over the course of 20 or 30 minutes. But woe unto you who tries to rush her, or tell her that she needs to get moving. Even a hint of feeling hurried will cause a complete stop to all activities as she melts down and wails that she does not have enough time. But with so much time spent dressing and moping, there is not much time left for breakfast! Nevermind. Quicksilver down there has already eaten it all. Twice. Want to see him do it again? He just did. You blinked. You missed it.
And this tortoise and hare behavior is not limited to the small scale moments of the day. Take their Halloween candy, for instance. His was eaten the moment it went into his bucket. I’m surprised he had any left when we got back from trick-or-treating. Her candy, however, is eaten over the course of months, even years, rationed out so as to always have candy on hand. Unfortunately, once his is gone he starts in on hers. We hold him back as long as we can, but by this time in January nobody can really remember, or even care, whose candy is whose anymore, so any fun-sized items are fair game. In fact, I just ate one myself.
At dinner every night we get the same story. He is done eating first, and she is done last. Now, mind you, I will admit that he is often done eating first because he refuses to eat anything at all and then runs off to do something else instead, but the point remains the same. Whatever he is doing, eating or not eating, he is doing it at top speed. I can’t tell you the number of nights that we have given up and left the table, waiting for the girl to finish eating. We want to sit as a family and have a meal, but after an hour all bets are off. She can finish her food by herself. We have other things to do. Like go to bed. And we don’t know what to do about it. It can be a problem. She often comes home with the majority of her lunch still in her lunch box, and when we ask about it she tells us she doesn’t have time to eat it. I can empathize with her; I remember feeling rushed eating lunch in school too. But the obvious solution of “eat faster” does not seem to be a viable option to her.
So we have, on the one hand, the hare running around, laughing at his speed, and on the other hand the tortoise, oozing along at the speed of stone, which gives that old hare a good head start. But, like the story says, the hare has an earlier bedtime than the tortoise, so in the end the tortoise comes out ahead. For now. But for their father’s sake, I hope they can learn to adjust their speeds somewhat in the future. It’s exhausting to spend every day doing nothing but shifting gears. And eventually that hare is going to wake up again.