Ah, this is a good one for me. I once jokingly said that I’d always prayed for patience and a sense of humor. God answered my pray by giving me The Boy and The Girl. The Boy is to give me a sense of humor; The Girl is to give me patience. The Baby is my reward for not killing One and Two.
The Boy has a wicked sense of humor. So much so that I really get afraid of answering the phone when it either says, “Private” or “XXXX School District.” One is the office phone, the other is the Principal’s phone. Neither are good news. When The Boy was quite young–Kindergarten or so, Dear Husband read an article to me stating how parents shouldn’t use sarcasm around young children because they didn’t understand it and would take you literally. The Boy overheard this, and at six, rolled his eyes and said, “Yeah, right.” I always said he was advanced.
The Girl, uh, let’s see, she has an uhm, a certain joie de vivre. It manifests itself through her constant talking, dancing, singing, moving, playing, (did I mention talking) happy little self. She also tends to be SO into what is going on around her (and in her head) that she’s grown up with the phrase, “Eyes and toes the same way goes.” She spends an inordinate amount of time running into things (walls, doors, people, sunlight) because she’s never watching where she’s going.
I am going to claim she gets her joie de vivre from me. She gets her temper from my husband’s side of the family. Really. Because I am the most even tempered person around. Honestly. Okay, you can stop laughing now.
All right, I admit it. I do have a tiny bit of a temper. Patience has never been my strong suit. I told you I prayed for it. The interesting thing about God giving you something that you ask for, is that He doesn’t just give it to you. He actually makes you work for it. I didn’t get to wake up one morning and say, “Hooray, I’m funny and patient.” Nope. God knew that acquiring these talents required me to be constantly put in situations where it was necessary to BE patient and to HAVE a sense of humor. Which means I spend an inordinate amount of time with my children. You’d think I’d be a faster learner by now.
As The Girl has gotten older, her temper has gotten, uhm….hotter? What is some nice, politically correct way to state her behavior. When I was a child, I was “precocious” now it’s a diagnosis. “Outgoing” and “vivacious” are now “ADD” and “ADHD.”
As a teacher/trainer, I know that the BEST way to learn something is to have to teach it to someone else. So I guess that God, in His infinite wisdom, decided that I needed to teach my daughter how to become more patient.
A lot of times we go through life and aren’t aware of what we are teaching others–what our children are learning when they watch us. And it isn’t the learning when we are sitting there playing games with them, or singing songs, or even when we fold laundry or vacuum while they are playing in the room. No, the children are learning how to behave when we are fighting with our spouses (that never happens in our house), speaking to a clerk in the store (and hearing what WE mutter under our breath when we walk away). They learn how to respond to a mistake by watching US make them.
Several years ago, when my two oldest were much younger, I was visiting my aunt, uncle and cousins. I had a glass of water by my side and was sitting on the edge of the fireplace. I have a disability that prevents me from speaking without moving my hands. The more excited I am, the more my hands move. Taking up knitting has helped a lot. I can knit while I talk and no longer look like I’m having a seizure. So I was talking and gesturing and you guessed it–the glass of water goes right over and onto the floor. Nothing broke, but I panicked and jumped up, expecting to be berated. I grew up in a house where, mistakes were not only not tolerated– they were ammunition for mocking. In THIS house though, no one said anything. The conversation barely even paused as my aunt tossed me a towel. I started to apologize and my cousins looked at me like I had two heads. “Why would you apologize? It was an accident,” one of them said. I was shocked. This happened probably 6 years ago and I still vividly remember it. It changed the way I parent. Mistakes weren’t that big of a deal. It may not seem like news to you, but you didn’t grow up in the dysfunctional house that I did. (Side note–I did a quick google search for some of my relatives and let’s just say, “My family is crazier than your family–neener, neener, ne-ner!”) If you doubt that (I’m talking to you, H), just private email me and I will show you proof!
Several years ago (but more recently than my last story), before I was pregnant with #3 and when I was in WAY better shape, the Family Unit–complete with Granny and Grandpa–decided to go biking. It was a short, 5-mile route along the Wissahickon River that was easy for us to tow the kids. And by “we” I mean, Dear Husband and Grandpa. The ride down was fun and uneventful but the ride home—
I didn’t bring MY bike because Dear Husband mocked its skinny tires. Apparently they are “out” and mountain bikes are “in.” Not wanting to look like a total geek (too late), I decided to take my husband’s “cool” bike while he took his new, Father’s Day present bike. So, JUST after we left the Valley Green Inn, the “cool” bike with the non-skinny tires got a flat. Now I’m not saying that my “skinny tired” bike wouldn’t have gotten a flat, I’m just saying that the HEAVY mountain bike DID get a flat. And Dear Husband, being the experienced biker, didn’t bring an extra tube.
And I knew at this moment, God was giving me the opportunity to demonstrate patience.
I could have thrown a tantrum. Indeed, I feel I had a right to throw a tantrum. We were 5 miles down a bike trail with small children (who didn’t yet know how to bike–another blog for another day) and grandparents and a BIKE WITH A FLAT TIRE AND NO TUBE!!!!
I could have left the bike–again–really had the right. Dear Husband had a brand new bike and I had a skinny-tired bike at home. But could I really teach my children that when something doesn’t work or breaks, we just leave it on the side of the bike trail and forget about it? The Boy would have spent the rest of the day suggesting we do the same thing to The Girl.
I picked up that VERY HEAVY BIKE WITH A FLAT TIRE AND NO TUBE and carried it back to the car. Five miles. And I didn’t complain. To be honest, part of the not complaining was a result of NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATH. But the other part was a voice in my head saying, “How you react to this situation will teach your children how to handle frustrating moments.” How I HATED that voice in my head.
Several people did try to stop and help. But apparently bike tubes are certain sizes and NO ONE had a tube that fit these fat tires. I swear someone said, “I have a ‘skinny’ bike tube.” But I was probably just hallucinating.
So did anyone learn anything from my teachable moment? Did anyone grow from my moment of demonstrating patience?
Actually, I did.
I learned that (at the time) I was IN REALLY GOOD SHAPE. I learned that silence can often be the best response to a bad situation. I learned that a lot of lessons aren’t planned and that the best way to teach others is to accurately demonstrate the desired behavior.
I guess I am quite blessed, God really wants me to have a well-developed sense of humor and patience and continues to put me in situations with my children that encourage me to develop these talents. Right now, three days after I started this entry that got waylaid because a certain large, round baby decided not to nap, I’m listening to said baby practice her dolphin calls. Garage doors are opening as we speak and there are several dogs howling at our front door.
Is this an opportunity to demonstrate humor or patience?