I now walk my son to school every day. It's one of the privileges of our new house: do some light exercise in the morning and spend some quality time with my son. But then reality stood in our way. Taking my son out of the house makes me go from loving father, to expert negotiator, to authoritarian motherfucker. My angry son then takes his revenge by stopping to pick every single thing he finds on the road. The clock keeps ticking and we're late already. I grab my son by the hand and pull hard, just about to tear his arm off. Now it's time to hate all those parents that decide to group and talk right in your way. Reach the classroom, almost forget to kiss your kid goodbye while you throw him in, and run back home pushing some more parents aside. Reach the car sweating, only to hate some more people on the road and reach your office stressed, embarrassed, angry and smelly.
It didn't take me long to realize that I had to do something. Start with the basics: wake up earlier. It's just math, right? No. Wrong. There's an unspoken law of nature, stronger and truer than math, that will make you fill those extra minutes with just more misery. You may hit it once or twice, but on the long run misery wins.
I reached a point where I simply gave up. That's it. Living at walking distance from your son's school simply sucks, and will make your life suck more. Full stop.
And then it hit me.
What if I just don't care.
What if I don't care that we are late to school. What if I just don't care about being late to the office. Why do I care actually? What's the problem? What's the worst that could happen? That strike of insight made me profoundly change my mindset for the next day.
— Son, we need to leave, it's late.
— But dad, I'm watching Finn and Jake.
— Alright, when you finish this episode we leave. Actually, let me watch it with you. [3 min later] Ok finished, that was fun, shall we go?
Leave home, talk about the episode, don't step on the red tiles of the road, only the white ones, "will you play football today?", "will you come and pick me up from school?". We reach the classroom, we are late, I don't care. I kiss him, enjoy your day, I'll see you later. I leave the school and deliberately walk slowly. It's autumn and I enjoy some fresh air in a sunny day. Wow that was good. Reach my car, plug my iPhone, stream some music, drive to the office. It felt awesome. It felt Saturday morning. It felt holidays.
I reach the office. Not that I care, but I can't help glance at the clock. I cannot believe what I see. Really? It's only 10 minutes later than any other day. 10 minutes. 10 FUCKING MINUTES. All I needed to trade daily misery for Saturday mornings was 10 MINUTES? Unbelievable.
Over the weeks, this careless attitude turns extremely effective. We are no longer late. Somehow my son is now extremely obedient with any request "grab my hand to cross the street". I still don't care whether I'm late or not. Still play with my son on the road if he wants to. But now laws of nature change: waking up earlier works the way it's supposed to. If I'm in a rush because I have a meeting scheduled, my son understands. It's a different world.
I still marvel at how a little perspective changed the whole game. How social conventions of what's right or wrong forces us to comply. How counterproductive it is to force your ways and views into other people (specially little ones). How sometimes, to get what you want, you have to stop trying and simply let go and live in the moment. And all I had to trade off was 10 minutes to make a profound change in my life. Thought that was a lesson worth sharing.