Parenting Lesson 579: When Your Day Gets Derailed

Posted February 8, 2014 by jimhigley


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My yesterday was so perfectly mapped.

I had all of my projects set out on the dining room table – in the order I planned on tackling them. And because this particular Friday’s T.V. schedule included the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, I set aside a few mindless projects (Twitter account purging – one of my favorite pastimes) for the evening’s activities.

It was going to be a gold medal day.

My daughter, the self-sufficient one, needed just a tiny bit of my help mid-afternoon: a quick ride to the neighboring suburb where she was going to catch a train into the city after a quick workout. An easy request. Easily accomplished. And with my youngest son off at a school activity followed by a party, I had the house to myself.

And my piles of project.

Me happy.

Until two hours later when I received a text from the self-sufficient one.

I’ve been waiting 30 min for the train. Keeps getting delayed. Can’t feel my feet. 

Me: I’m so sorry. Is there a heater nearby?

There are 30 million people under it. And they just announced that the trains are all shut down.

And, in perfect synchronization, I saw a local news reporter announcing the “Breaking News” that a train had derailed in the northern Chicago suburbs and passengers were stranded throughout all of Chicagoland.

My daughter being one of them. The self-sufficient one. Who needed some help.

Can you come get me and drive me downtown? 

Driving to downtown Chicago on Friday at 5:00 p.m. is the last thing I wanted to do. What I wanted to do is host a pity party. A party highlighting how messed up all of my perfect piles, my perfect evening, and my perfect plans now were.

Me: On my way. And I’m bringing you foot warmers.

Over the years I’ve had to learn how to stop and think before I respond. Before I explode. It’s kind of my “Stop, Drop, Roll” principle of parenting.

Be the parent your kid needs you to be. 

Easier to do when they simply need their shoes tied. Or want to hear Goodnight Moon for the 799th time (actually, that’s grating, too).

But being a parent requires accepting the reality of derailed plans.


The traffic to the city sucked. 90 minutes give or take. A drive that should have been less than 30 minutes.

I hate traffic.

But the trade-off was 90 minutes alone with my self-sufficient one. And a reminder that she still needs me every once in a while.



  • tracey clark

    I’ve been there so many times! And you’re so right about being careful/mindful with our responses. I find that texting with my daughter really helps me to respond with love and a level head. Something about having to type it out slows me down enough to not lose my cool. It’s been a valuable (albeit unlikely) positive communication tool. Great post! : )