Being late with zero consequences, an adult’s superpower

There are certain superpowers rumoured to be possessed only by adults.

It’s bigger than filing taxes, more extravagant than owning a house, but only after you have passed the teenage phase are you granted this unimaginable ability – of being late. Or, more specifically, of being late with no consequences.

Your mother says your family is leaving at 12.30pm to go for lunch. The countdown has already begun, it’s game time. You run the calculations in your head. Ten minutes to change, five minutes for your mum to tell you to put on a jacket because it will be too cold. Should you bring your water bottle? There will probably be water at the restaurant, but what if your parents decide to go grocery shopping? Then your dad says he needs to buy something at the pharmacy? Oh no! Have you charged your phone? Do you have enough battery to survive?

It’s 11 o’clock. If your phone is charging when your mum comes out of her room, she’ll say you’re addicted, you used up the battery, and aren’t responsible enough to plan! You can charge your phone for 30 minutes, you’ll have to cut your losses and leave with 80 per cent. It’s tough, but in something as high stakes as this – you have to make tough decisions. Intricate planning is what it takes to brave the wrath of your parents’ judgments.

11.30am. T-minus one hour to departure. You can’t let them down. Your reputation is on the line – you absolutely cannot be late. Is the restaurant outdoors, do you need a hair tie? What if the restaurant is indoors? Is just a T-shirt enough? Is it too casual? So many thoughts racking up inside your head, what will they say in response to anything you do? Considering their next move, you bring a bag before they tell you it’s too inconvenient to hold your water, and that you should have thought ahead.

12 o’clock. Fully equipped and ready to leave, you did it all with half an hour to spare. This is good, you’re early and prepared. But wait! What do you do for half an hour then? Too short a time to get anything done, but long enough for your folks to start questioning why you aren’t using the time to do your homework. No, you cannot be seen sitting around for 30 minutes.

12:15pm. The perfect timing. You’ve been sitting on your bed, scrolling on your phone, and it’s time to emerge from your room like you hadn’t spent the last 15 minutes pretending like you were still getting ready. Leaving the safety of your room, you sit on the couch to wait for the time to pass, letting everyone in your house know you’re punctual. As a matter of fact, you’re early.

12:30pm. Where is everybody? It’s 12:30, time to leave! Your mum walks by, still putting on her watch, plugging her phone in to charge. You hear your dad still shaving.

12:45pm. The agreed upon time has come and gone. Your mum is typing something on her phone. You should have left by now! You should be in the car! Tentatively, you ask your mum why you haven’t left yet.

“Your dad is still getting ready. Be patient lah!”

You start to question if deadlines mean anything to your parents. Do they even know they set a time to leave? Have they no respect for your masterful planning?

1 o’clock. Finally, your parents are both ready. After thousands of years, you can finally put on your shoes and get in the car, like you were supposed to half an hour ago. Honestly, your parents have no regard for the effort that goes into organising the perfect timings. Instead, they can waltz in half an hour later than the agreed upon time, and no one bats an eye.

You try it the next time your family leaves for lunch. You don’t stress over timings, you don’t anxiously plan anything. It’s almost liberating, not having to stress over every move. You try being just five minutes late to leave your room.

“Oi! We have to go already! Aiyo, always making us late! No preparation!”

Never mind. I guess the world isn’t ready to let teenagers be late.

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