Okay, I spoil the families at my school a little. Sometimes deadlines aren’t really deadlines. You see, I know that gifted procrastinate… and, if I teach gifted kids, they came from gifted parents. So, I always assume a few will procrastinate. Often the second time they will think about a deadline is when I write “This is the last day to __________.” Then there will be a panic and a phone call and a plea. I’ve just learned that it is easier to give myself a day or two beyond my “last day” call to get all the orders or money or permission slips in.
Recently we’ve been participating in some activities that have no leeway with deadlines. Friday night’s wrestling weigh-in is a must for Saturday’s wrestling. T-shirt orders done online close down at precisely the same minute they were started some weeks later. No exceptions.
Missing a deadline isn’t all bad, though. It causes changes in our habits. I have always been a defender of procrastination. If it takes three hours to perform a task, what does it matter if I utilize the first three hours or the last, as long as I get it done in time. That last part is the kicker. Done in time. I am not a defender of late. Ask any of my students: I punish for late. I do not accept late work; I cannot stand to go to meetings where we wait for the people who are late before we start (why am I being penalized for being on time?); and I leave students behind who do not show up on time for field trips. More than once, parents have driven out to the highway to try to catch the bus that left their child behind. Am I just that cruel? Maybe. Naw. I have been known to wait when the situations are beyond control. I have to be even more patient now because, for the first time in thirty years, I was the one who forgot the field trip this last week. I’ve just learned that, given the chance to be late or turn something in late, at least of third of my students will do so. If I want to spend my days running down late assignments, then I will accept late. But I don’t. So I won’t.
Missing something is not the end of the world, but it sure is disappointing. It’s important that we prepare our children for that disappointment… because it’s going to happen. Your children need some deadlines so that they can practice: homework done by 9:00, room clean by dinner time, in the car and ready to go by 7:30. Tying a loss to the deadline can help children realize why they shouldn’t miss deadlines. Protecting your child from the consequences of not meeting deadlines isn’t really protecting them at all.