Scope Creep

by the Coconut Girl on April 17, 2012

“Let’s get an ice cream.”

“Can I get two scoops?”

“One’s good.”

“Then rainbow sprinkles.”

“The ice cream’s so delicious, it tastes perfect on its own.”

“A waffle cone would be extra perfect.”

Ever have conversations like this? You start out with a good, simple idea. Then, the scope increases. More scoops. Sprinkles. A cone upgrade. My husband and I call this kind of conversation with our kids “scope creep.” He and I both have our own businesses, and part of our work is helping clients stay true to their budgets and schedules. Some job skills come in handy at home.

In my architecture practice, I encounter homeowners who pressure themselves to get everything exactly right the first time. They fear having to redo a kitchen or a bath later. So the small, shower-only bathroom we originally designed bumps out to include a tub. (They may have children one day). This may be their only construction project ever, and they want to be smart about it. I completely understand the dilemma. But add up enough of tweaks, and the scope and expense might grow the project out of reach.

With children, time can creep out, too. Another word for this is stalling.

“Can we have circle time and read a book after dinner?”

“Sure, we can do that for ten minutes and then go up for baths and bed.”

“Great, I’ll read a book, then we’ll get the alphabet ball and play Roll, Bounce or Kerplunk.”

“We’ll have the right amount of time for the book or the ball game.”

“It’s a short book.”

“So you’re choosing to read?”

“And do Roll, Bounce, and Kerplunk.”

I picture a shuffle board covered with numbers. The wood paddle pushes the puck. We move the disk around until it lands on the right figure. It’s a slick discussion, and I try to stay positive, to keep my boundaries and patience between the lines. I know that before I tug the pull-chain on the bedside lamp and kiss foreheads goodnight, there will be more scope and accompanying attempts to grow it. I am the children’s timekeeper. When they yawn, I’ll forgo explaining the physics of lava flow til morning. But one more hug before I turn on the night light? I embrace this sweetest of creeps.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn April 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm

In the sixties, protesters practiced passive resistance (remind you of the child who sits down, defiantly, and won’t MOVE when we are REALLY needing to get moving?)
Extra sprinkles or nighty night addendum are the kid version for all those
“UP grades” we adults have slung at us (think FIOS or buying the car or appliance or reduced price for 5 yrs. magazine subscription instead of just l yr.) Guess we humans are just hardwired to push for extrees. ‘do like the disarming kiss and hug, though, from our sleepyheads.

Becky April 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Scope creep is the story of my life. Bedtime scope creep is indeed, one of the better ones, some nights at least.

Eric June 14, 2012 at 9:31 am

My 2 year old nestled against my chest, the song on the ipod coming to an end, I stop rocking, thinking, “I’m late for swimming and have so much work to catch up on”. She wakes from her slumber, pushes my hand back to the rocker, mumbling “one more song”, and buries her head deeper into the blanket on my shoulder. What could be better? I opt for another 5 songs; I can swim and work years from now.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: