How we got to school on time, 4: Sodom and Gomorrah

by Wolf Pascoe on February 22, 2011

I just want to thank everyone who made this day necessary.

Yogi Berra


We had a new program for dealing with Nick’s tardiness. Come Monday morning, we had to leave the house by 9:15 am. Either that, or Nick would be staying home from school for the day.

Blades, by Torbjörn S.

Nora and I were filled with dread that weekend, but determined to see the procedure through.

At first, Nick had dismissed the plan, pretending it was of no importance. But as the deadline approached, he began to acquaint us with the depth of his legal mind.

“What does it mean to be on time?” he said.


“It means crossing the threshold of the front door, dressed for school, by fifteen minutes after nine.” I said.

“What if I’m five minutes late,” he said.

“Then no school,” I said.

“What if I’m five seconds late,” said Nick.

“Same, same,” I said.

“Is this going to be this way forever?” said Nick.


“How long is forever?”

It reminded me of the Biblical story of Abraham bargaining with God about Sodom and Gemorrah.

“Behold I speak to the Lord. Peradventure there are fifty good people. Will you spare the city if there are fifty good people in it?” said Abraham.

“If there are fifty good people in the city, I will spare them for the fifty’s sake,” said God.

Abraham had argued God down to ten, and there the dispute ended.


As I recalled, things had not worked out well for Sodom.

“What if I’m five million millionth seconds late,” said Nick.

“If you’re measureably late, then you’re late,” I said.

“But I mean, how can you even measure it?” said Nick.

“You know, Nick, daddy doesn’t have an instrument that measures that precisely,” said Nora.

“I’ll know it when I see it,” I said.




Monday morning arrived, bright with sun. Nick woke cheerful. He was ready early. His clothes still itched and he still needed cream, but he was ready early.

As we walked out the front door at 9:05, Nick said, “I like being early. We should have left at 9 o’clock! We should have made the time 9 o’clock!”

We arrived in the schoolyard well before morning meeting. There were grins all around. Most of the teachers had been aware of the plan.

Charity beamed. “Nick, it’s so good to see you early!”

Nick trotted off to play with some friends.

“This is great,” he said. “You can actually play before morning meeting, you know.”

Nick was on time the next day. And the next. And the next. No arguments. No attitude. No complaints.

“I just love being early,” said Nick.

It was so easy.

“Charity,” I said, on the morning of the third day, “You’re a genius. I’m going to nominate you for a MacArthur.”

The real test came a week later.

. . .


This is Part 4 in a series of six posts.
Read: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 5. Part 6.
The series continues next time with: Ordeal

You might also enjoy:

The Marshmallow Test. Children were given a marshmallow and told they could eat it right away, or hold off and earn an extra marshmallow:



How to teach Self-Discipline–What a kids’ blog called Radical Parenting has to say about The Marshmallow test.

. . .

Childrens’ art credit: Blades. Crayon. Torbjörn S. Age 10.
Kungsör, Sweden. ©2011 The Natural Child Project. Used by permission.


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

BigLittleWolf February 22, 2011 at 11:11 am

You do love to keep us hanging. . .



Wolf Pascoe February 22, 2011 at 11:17 am

Me and Charles Dickens are all over it.


kathryn kates February 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Well, I’m just MAD for the itchy clothes part – your kid’s just a genius with that issue – but I need to know what he pulls next – I feel like the marshmallow kids waiting for the next installment. hurry


Wolf Pascoe February 22, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Love those marshmallow kids.


Jennie McKenzie February 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Having a hard-and-fast rule, even if it “works” on the surface, seems inconsistent with true freedom. It still looks like Nick’s unmet need behind his tardiness has not been identified or addressed. I highly recommend Inbal Kashtan’s booklet Parenting From the Heart, which gives examples of ways to identify the unmet need behind a child’s behavior in a compassionate and fair way.


Wolf Pascoe February 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Sounds like a good book, I’ll check it out. Nora and I have read many, many books about parenting, and used to be experts, until we had a kid.


Barbara February 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Wow, it worked! Well, so far. But kudos to all of you for seeing it through this far!


Wolf Pascoe February 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Thanks, Barbara. Would that the story were over.


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