Several times a day I want to scream at the very top of my lungs for my son to please just BE PATIENT. At Target, at lunch, in the morning when I haven’t had my coffee and he wants me to carry 1,100 stuffed animals down the stairs to the couch. You know, because. It literally takes everything inside of me to keep my mouth shut because I know that somewhere deep down, he wants to scream the same damn thing at me.
I’m not sure when it all changed for me, but somewhere along the line of this crazy parenting journey, I realized how unfair it is that we demand patience from our littlest people, while giving very little of it in return. My son wakes up every morning very ready for life. He’s thrilled that he’s alive and he’s ready to sing about it on his way down the stairs. He’s wiggly. All day. He doesn’t have any sort of diagnosed disorder though, he’s just 5 and zestful. In fact, I’m a little jealous of his unbounded energy and chronic cheer. I see how it bothers older adults and even some younger ones too. I know they wish he’d simmer down. But I also know that eventually he’ll simmer down a lot and then one day, he’ll simmer all the way down. Can’t we just let our children be little? We aren’t very patient with their zest for life, their desire to learn in the kitchen, their curiosity about this amazing and bizarre world that we live in. If we could offer them the same patience we ask of them, where would the parent/child relationship land? Probably somewhere along the line of LIBERATION for all, which sounds like a sweet finish line to me. Here are two ways I try to include more patience into my life with a wiggly five year old:
Breathe. This is not a ‘wherever you go, there you are’ post, I promise. I’m tired of people speaking only in interpretive Meme’s too, so I’ll just spit this out. BREATHE. Take three breaths before you yell/run/scream/cry/interrupt. I never thought this was going to work, for even one second, but it does. In those three tiny seconds, my brain calms down and reminds me that he’s small, he’s essentially lost without me, and he’s wildly curious. He’ll grow up before I know it, and it’s my job to grow him up right. It might just be that in those most painful, frustrating moments of mommyhood that our best advice and modeling can happen for our kids. Parenting isn’t just about the children. My life didn’t stop when my son was born; it was forever changed. We have to live this life together and we have to both be happy. I have seen parents take this patience thing too far and ignore their own needs (literally, food) to answer a question for their child. To each his own, but that isn’t the direction I’m headed. Balance, patience, breathing. I’m on Team Happy and I know that patience is key to happiness in any relationship. Which brings me to my second practice:
Require Patience, Respectfully. I ask my son at least ten times a day to please wait for me. Wait for me to finish my work, wait for me to finish my coffee, wait for me at the car, wait for me to put some things down before piling on more, wait for me to finish my sentence before speaking, etc. I ask him to wait, and I require his patience as a form of respect. But it’s mutual respect. I ask nicely and when he asks nicely, I almost always comply, even if it doesn’t fit my schedule. This is the part where most parents fall off and start typing replies about me way up on my high horse. I can actually kind of understand why they feel that way, because this is new and hard and from the outside, it might look like doormat parenting. But it’s my attempt to facilitate a patient, respectful child. If this method of patience would never work for your child, that’s perfectly okay because there are several ways to end up at the finish line. For us, patience isn’t optional. I remind myself all the time to let my son finish speaking even when it’s gruelingly long and confusing because I expect the same from him. Patience is a true gift, and even a small increase can be relationship altering.
Do you struggle with patience? Is it a value that you try to teach your children from a young age?