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Parenting on 3-year-old time: Smell the roses, watch the ants

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AP Images for Fisher-Price/Diane Bondareff

(Read caption) Toddler and tots immersed in play can't always be swayed to follow an "adult timetable." New York kids got a sneak peak of the new Thomas & Friends (TM) toys from Fisher-Price featuring the TrackMaster (TM) Zip, Zoom & Logging Adventure (TM) at the hands-on, play stations aboard the historic Lehigh Valley Barge, Aug. 26, 2010, in New York's Brooklyn Bridge Park. Home in time for dinner?Good luck.

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The day starts with my son asking for the empty toilet paper roll as I take it off of the holder.  I hand it to him, and he climbs up on the closed lid of the toilet and peers through one end of the cardboard tube.

"Arrgh,"  he says.  "Mommy, I a pirate!"   He bends at the knees, leaning forward in his T-shirt and Spiderman underwear while surveying the imaginary seas around us.

Three-year-olds have great imaginations, but they have no sense of time – at least not our time.  Later that morning, my pirate makes us late for an appointment by taking forever to put on his own jacket, and refusing my help.  I have learned from experience that trying to help a preschooler when they want to do something on their own will most certainly lead to a teary tantrum – and more delay.  So I take deep breaths while tapping my foot.

That afternoon, a 10-minute walk to the park turns into 30 as he stops to examine the cracks in the sidewalk, an interesting rock and a flower.  I just want to get there, but my son sees some ants and squats to get a closer look.  Knowing that he won't budge, I bend and watch the tiny creatures with him.

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