The Art of Schedule Negotiation
Yesterday, I accepted the challenge of scheduling an appointment for my daughter. Scheduling an appointment for your kids is one of those jobs that I think should require a degree in skilled negotiation and mediation.
The receptionist and I went back and forth with suggested days and times, dodging other activities in my daughter’s schedule, until finally she suggested an appointment time at 4 o’clock, after school. My focus on the negotiation was side-tracked when she uttered the words “after school.” We didn’t need a specific after-school time. After all, my daughter has a pretty flexible school schedule (unlike other stuff in her busy life), and we didn’t need a special time after school. So I asked for a different time.
Without looking first at my daughter, I did it. I accepted her new offer for 11 o’clock in the morning. The appointment card she handed me was as good as a handshake, and we were set.
As I’m walking to the car to take my daughter to her next activity, I notice her looking at me with that look. The wheels in my head started turning, trying to figure out what motherly error I had made that earned her gaze. Then it clicked. Why didn’t I take the 4 o’clock appointment? After all, just because she doesn’t have to be in a school building at 11 o’clock in the morning doesn’t mean that she didn’t have schoolwork to do.
I didn’t say anything. After all, I don’t want to give up that front of knowing exactly what I’m doing at all times. But, I was kicking myself for taking away prime learning time from my daughter’s school day. And she knew it too. This isn’t my first time doing this. And whenever I do it, I know better. But every once in a while I say yes to things that pull both my daughter and myself away from her school day and I almost always regret it later.
Don’t get me wrong. There are excellent learning opportunities available during the school day, like field trips, agreeing to volunteer an hour here and there or an impromptu gathering of friends, but I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the stuff that I could schedule later, just like this doctor appointment. Every time I do this, I promise myself it won’t happen again.
So there I was, driving home, wondering if my daughter was quietly scheming a way to get even with me for adding an hour or two to a future school day and then I decided to break the silence. “I should have accepted the 4 o’clock appointment after school, right?” She draws in a deep breath and replies with a patient smile and simple “Yes.”
Note to self: Call and reschedule appointment for after school.
Are you helping or hindering your child’s learning schedule and focus?