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Why A Deadline Is No Friend of the Toddler: It's Physics

07/04/2013 22:11 BST | Updated 06/06/2013 10:12 BST

The faster one travels, the slower time moves. We know this from Einstein's theory of relativity. So if something is moving incredibly slowly - a toddler putting on her coat, say - time must surely zoom along apace.

Finally an answer to the vexing question of why it is that a person in sole charge of a young child cannot leave the house before noon. IT'S PHYSICS.

No, really. I theorized the hell out of it while watching my daughter complete a jigsaw puzzle. She worked carefully. It was a slow process. So slow I was forced to lash myself to the table to keep from diving in, wailing: "Seriously, it only has FOUR pieces." Time, on the other hand, although seeming to stand still, rushed past so quickly that lunchtime was suddenly upon us. And I had achieved NOTHING. (Apart from further developing Einstein's seminal work, of course. Oh hello Nobel Prize.)

It occurs to me at this point that one of the most difficult things about the early years of parenthood is what a desperate dawdle the whole business can be. When I say dawdle, I don't mean that life is not busy, just that it manages to be busy very, very slowly. Of course, I'm temperamentally completely unsuited to this new pace. I really must adjust.

But there is something about the natural tendency of a toddler to faff that can be maddening when hurrying. Worse still for my poor old baby, though, who must endure a mother who palpably vibrates with restless energy as we go through our daily getting-ready-to-go-out routine.*

I won't bore you with the detail (perhaps you have a similar routine yourself) but it does involve: last minute changes of footwear, coat refusal, the exuberant upturning of toy baskets, spontaneous games of 'shopping', urgent requests for plaaaaaaaaaydooooooh and, as we finally close the front door behind us, a nappy (diaper) that can only be described as a dirty protest. At which point the whole saga starts again ad infinitum.

The truth is a deadline (even a self-imposed one) is no friend of the toddler. Without a deadline life with the very young takes on its own much looser shape. Without a deadline there is MUCH more laughing. Without a deadline you get a non-vibrating woman and a delighted toddler. And this of course is a very good thing.

*Yes, a vibrating mother. Is that not a normal thing?

Next time: string theory for infants.

This post was first published on http://forthegirlblog.blogspot.com