The other night I was watching something very thought provoking on TV (I kid, it was The Bachelor), and a commercial came on. We no longer have cable, so my days of fast-forwarding through these breaks are long gone. I immediately reached for my phone and started browsing Facebook. I couldn’t even sit still and watch two minutes of commercials. Two minutes.
The next day, I was in line at the grocery store with my two young children. There was one person in front of us so we had to…dare I say it…wait. My kids were restless, tired and hungry and I had to pull out all the stops to keep them occupied – for two minutes. They couldn’t even stand and wait patiently for 120 seconds.
Way back in the day, what do you think Mrs. Ingalls did when she took Laura and Mary across the prairie to shop at the town store? Did her girls pull at her dress, demand candy or crave constant entertainment? I doubt it. Do you remember being gone from your house all-day and coming home to check your voicemail on your landline? It was exciting to see who called. Our patience paid off in the form of delightful anticipation. And what about the days of dial-up Internet? I recall sitting in our basement in front of our Gateway computer, waiting for it to connect. I had to sit there for up to an hour at times, again anticipating the sounds of AOL coming to life. I would spend that time reading, doing homework, playing Ping-Pong or even at times…just waiting. Shocking, I know.
But as time has gone on, I seem to have lost this skill. Like most of our society, I am no longer a patient person. Which unfortunately means, I am not teaching my kids to be patient. That is the real kicker. This cycle of not being able to sit through commercials, wait in line at the grocery or sit still during the school day will inevitably continue – unless we do something about it.
Since this realization, I’ve made a conscience effort to put both my children and myself in situations where we have to be patient. I refuse to pull out my phone while waiting in line somewhere. In fact, I deleted the Facebook app to help this cause. I’m teaching my children what the word “patience” means and we talk about it often. This has been applicable in nearly every aspect of their lives. When they ask for a drink, or to go play outside or as they anxiously wait for an upcoming birthday…we talk about patience.
I am admittedly frustrated with myself for my impatience. Life tends to happen in little moments – like when you’re waiting for dial-up Internet to connect – but I’ve been spending that time browsing, being unnecessarily productive and likely trying to keep my kids occupied. And they’ve been watching. They struggle waiting through the previews of their favorite movie. They want a drink the second they ask for it. And our world is catering more and more to this need for urgency. Can it be a good thing? Absolutely. But do we all still need to learn and exercise patience? Definitely.
Although we skip over commercials, get constant text messages and have immediate access to the internet, a big part of me wants to cling to a time when this wasn’t the case. A time when patience wasn’t something that had to be taught – it was innate. I hope to be a good teacher and model of patience for my children so that this cycle isn’t completely unbroken. Because waiting around for my kids to learn to be patient on their own? Well, I’m too impatient for that.