Better early than sorry- Raising a kid who is always early

I hear the door slam and check the clock: 7:55 am.  I better prepare myself for another email from school.

One of the downsides of letting my kids navigate their own morning routine is that I have to witness the consequences of how they keep their schedule.

It is hard to count how many emails I have gotten from school about Oliver’s arrival time. First they were broad and kind, then slightly more specific, and now they are particularly pointed.


Frankly 7:55 is an improvement. It is probably as close to the start of school as he has managed in weeks.

It is an hour or so before the email arrives.

“Oliver continues to arrive early to school. The playground is not staffed until 8:00 am. No students can arrive before 8:00 except those having breakfast.”

In fact 7:55 is showing restraint. He would rather leave for school at 7:15. It takes all of his willpower to stay in the house. We live 15 steps from school. He estimates that it takes him five minutes to get there. It must be genetic.

  • I have spent my entire life apologizing to servers that I have arrived at lunch early as they refill my water glass for the fourth time and we both watch the line at the host stand grow.
  • I have stopped picking people up at the airport because I leave the house before their plane has taken off from the departure city.
  • I am always the first to arrive at parties. Sometimes I wait in the car or on the porch until the actual party start time and still, of course, am the first guest.
  • I wait outside of shops 30 minutes before their doors unlock. So efficient.
  • I log onto conference calls before the host has joined. I fill the chat window with greetings as I wait, and wish there was a delete button.
  • I show up for talks and seminars before the last section has wrapped up. I stalk them and make an entire room of people uncomfortable with my half apologetic, half accusatory looks.
  • When I am the one to cook dinner it hits the table by 4:30. Kidding. 4:15. Which is ALMOST dinner time on the East Coast.
  • I arrive at will call before they have the tickets sorted and stand in the chilly air, shifting from foot to foot as the attendant rushes through her opening tasks. Then I get my ticket and wait 1.5 hours for the show to start and am exhausted and ready to leave by the third song.
  • I light the candles for a party 2 hours early, and have to replace votives before the guests arrive. Sometimes twice.
  • Ditto for the ice bucket. I would like to fill it at 10:00 am. But even I have learned that I really shouldn’t fill it until 2:00pm.
  • I stand, overheating in my winter gear, for 25 minutes as my younger son gathers snacks and sharpies for whatever we are doing. Luckily I have a red-faced, sweaty Oliver to keep me company.
  • I pressure the boys to start the Lego advent calendar the day it arrives. In early November.
  • I give people presents as soon as I buy them. Fun for everyone. Except when the birthday rolls around and they open the socks and we reminisce about the fun stuff they got three weeks ago.

Why wait?

Which is my mantra for life.

I think Oliver agrees. He was born at 33 weeks. He probably thought it would take seven weeks to exit the birth canal. Better early than sorry.


What about you? Do you catch a lot of worms?

Have I been the first to arrive at your house or somehow made you feel guilty for being on time?

Clock 2:50
Clock 2:50


Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

24 thoughts on “Better early than sorry- Raising a kid who is always early”

  1. I too tend to be early too. My biggest pet peeve is when people waste my time. So if I am early and others are late, I am annoyed. I don’t get annoyed though until 5 minutes after the time of said appt/meeting. I have experienced this with you. It still haunts me to this day. Sarah, Ally, you, and, I were going to meet at the Green Room. I forgot to firm up with my sitter on the time so she never showed. I called all of you. You were already sitting at the Green Room. Sadly, you went home. I didn’t get to see you that night.

  2. Steve would like to arrive at movies 45 minutes before they start. Often we are waiting (holding our popcorn and sodas) for the earlier scheduled movie to get out.

  3. I find this essay to be quite funny. One thought was “Can Oliver eat breakfast at school?” But that would lead to the question of how early would he then be for breakfast. Of course I fall into the recently reformed but chronically tardy category. My ebbs and flows are based on who I am meeting — an early bird, I will be early, a friend who travels to her own time and I will arrive anywhere from five minutes early to five minutes late. The one think I truly love about cellphones is the ability to alert an early bird to my potential tardiness when necessary. But then again as far as the children go, I get the emails explaining that my son’s tardiness can be detrimental to his education — sadly the school does not consider five minutes late to be on-time.

    1. Cell phones have helped SO MUCH. I pretty much never get annoyed if I know what to expect. ALso I have gotten much more patient with other people now that I can entertain myself while waiting. I am replying to this comment from the Waiting Room of the Physical Therapist where I am 25 mintues early for a 30 minute appointment. Ever wonder why my restaurant was named The Waiting Room?

  4. *grins* Nope – I’m the opposite – the skimming in at the last minute, if not actually LATE, person. I don’t like being her either, but somehow time consistently gets away from me.

  5. I too find it terribly disrespectful when people are late. When we lived in New Orleans I was nearly driven mad by the laissez faire attitude regarding time. People were always late everywhere and it is culturally acceptable there. COMPLETE MADNESS!!!

  6. There was a time when I was early for everything too – however, I now find it hard to tear myself away from my solitude to go anywhere unless I really really really really want to be there. Hence I am never early now but unusually on time with only seconds to spare. That’s the difference between the young extrovert me and the older, more introverted me who loves being alone. I squeeze every last minute out of my alone time!

    1. You raise a second topic that I have been mulling over for a bit. Can we/ am I becoming less extroverted? It seems so. Mostly we hear about the change in the other direction but it stands to reason that it would go this way too. Are you enjoying yourself? It sounds like it!

  7. I am totally that person who is always 5 minutes early. It is totally genetic. My mother will have to be somewhere that takes 6 minutes to get to and she leave a 1/2 early….my kids? Have since stopped being in a rush since they were thrust into this world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.