“Lateness is a discourtesy to others.” She always heard this quote in the voice and impatient clipped manner of Headmaster Stimson in the movie Clockwise played by none other than John Clease.

The quote echoed accusingly in her mind many days as she failed yet again to gather her young brood and get them efficiently out the door. No matter how hard she tried, how far ahead she planned there was always an unavoidable delay.

  • A last-minute poopy diaper
  • A child taking forever in their single bathroom and delaying the whole line
  • Her favorite ….. missing shoes or more likely one missing shoes
  • A tummy ache Lost car keys
  • Some random yet crucially important item!

She strove to not be a yelling mom, but sometimes, on a particularly infuriating departure, she would lose her “cookies.”

The Sunday morning in question was one of those cookie-losing moments.

“Out the door. Out the DOOR! OUT THE DOOR!” Louder with each repetition the frustrated mother scooped, and gathered and herded her small brood to the family car.

“Does everyone have shoes on?”

“I don’t want to be late! We are visiting a new church this morning and it’s a pretty small congregation. They will likely notice if we try to slip in after the service has started. And there’s a bunch of us,” she turned around from the front passenger seat at this point and looked all the children over carefully. Drawing a deep breath she let it out slowly, seemingly satisfied with her inspection. Impatiently flicking the keys to the accessory position she checked the time.


The children observed the instant transformation of her countenance from satisfied to stormy.

“What is taking your father so long?” Her lips a firm tight line, the frustration visibly oozed out of every orifice.


The sound interrupted the truly gentle mother’s muttering. Spinning her head quickly to ascertain the source of the noise she saw a hand rapidly retreating to its owner’s lap. The angelic look on this child’s face did not match the hostile stare of his offended sibling.

“No fighting!” A useless statement uttered by countless parents daily she knew, yet she repeated it with narrowed eyes to indicate she meant it!

Turning to face forward she was oblivious to the backseat chatter. She stared hard at the door to the house willing it to open. Willing her husband to hurry to the car.

The green numbers on the clock turned to


There was no way they could get there and get seated before 10 am. She sighed and her shoulders slumped just a little.

Resigned now to their typical late arrival the quote in her head changed to an old song from her childhood. The children often heard her muttering this song whilst rushing somewhere or other:

“I’m late I’m late

for a very important date

No time to say hello goodbye

I’m late I’m late I’m late I’m late”

The song had become a self-fulfilling prophecy for her life and she leaned into the reality and released some of the stress as she repeated the lyrics again…

Finally arriving at the car, the sheepish father glanced at the time.


He knew his wife was annoyed. He had caught the end of her familiar song as he climbed into the driver’s seat.

“I’m sorry.” He reached for her hand.

Accepting the gesture she sighed, “I know.”

They drove the 8 minutes in companionable silence. It really only took 7 minutes as the one traffic light shone green as they approached.

Their small town only had three lights in total. It was the kind of place where everyone knew each other. The Franklins were new, having moved into the little neighborhood just outside of town 4 years ago, but they had managed to acquaint themselves with many old-timers by switching churches several times. Today they were going to visit the small Assemblies of God church. They knew a few families that attended regularly and had met with pastor Steve when they were exploring possible parishes.

They had never actually been inside the church itself however and as Dad quickly navigated their family van into a parking spot, Mom was studying the building quizzically. Which was the actual entrance? Strapping the baby into her carrier, she reached for the hand of the toddler.

All the older kids linked up with their younger charge and followed Mom who was still trying to figure out which was the main entrance.

This way!

“This way,” called Dustin, “I’ve seen people use this door before.

“No! I came here for a play day with my friend and we used this door.” And the 5-year-old headed towards a door that looked promising.

“Well, Jessie has actually been here before so let’s try this one!” As the family trooped towards the white-painted double doors they heard the sounds of energetic singing wafting from the building.

“At least we haven’t missed the singing!” Mom always looked to put a positive spin on things.

The singing stopped and they could hear a man’s voice talking. Mom turned and gave one last admonition: “Ok we are going to try to slip in as quietly as we can. I will quickly choose a row, hopefully in the very back and you all file in. Ready?”

A few nods and Dad flung open the door. (He never was the most discrete or graceful individual.) The children pushed forward, ready to slip into their seats silently and the startled pastor spun around to see a sizable family beginning to enter the sanctuary from behind him on the stage.


Mom began tugging kids in an amazingly awkward retreat, while pastor Steve enthusiastically announced to the whole church, “Why hello! The Franklins are here!”

Walking to the doors he opened them all the way. “Come in, come in, welcome.”

He shook hands with several kids and mom and dad, then directed the family across the stage to the stairs and down to a row that had been quickly cleared out to fit everyone in the family.

Mom’s face stayed a light shade of pink throughout the entire service. But she good-naturedly laughed for years about that one church with the entrance on the stage!

After the service, everyone exited through the back and out to the street, and the Franklins never visited that church again. Though it can be mentioned they did get a little better about being on time especially when going somewhere for the first time!

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