On Patience and Parenting

On Patience and Parenting

I think I just drove home behind the worst driver in Tel Aviv.

He pulled out from a driveway with no warning, then proceeded to drive at 30km/h for about 10km along a relatively clear suburban road.It didn’t take long for the anger to start building inside of me, along with urges to honk my horn loudly and speed around him. But as luck would have it I was feeling fairly mindful and centered, and decided to take the opportunity practice my patience. I wasn’t in a hurry and worst case scenario he was going to slow me down a few minutes.

Easier said than done.

I took a deep breath and continued crawling along behind the (apparently elderly) driver, totally into my little exercise. Yet within moments my mind was again yelling “overtake him!” “come on!” and “hoooooooonk.” I’d almost decide to follow through when I’d remember I was meant to be being patient and settle myself back down. It was only a few minutes until he took a different turn from me and the ordeal was over – but it felt like hours. Over and over and over – deciding to be calm and then feeling the rage bubbling up. Mindfulness returning, breathe calming, and repeat.

That’s the thing with patience – it’s not an on-off switch. Sometimes we’ve gotta choose it over and over and over again, even in a short space of time and on relatively unimportant issues.

The experience made me think of GG, and how hard it is sometimes to be patient with toddlers. He’s really into construction at the moment, and spends a lot of time building towers out of duplo or magna tiles. Usually he’s pretty happy in the process but sometimes he gets so frustrated, and my first instinct of course is to fix it, to show him the way out of his suffering. But I want to let him sort these things out himself and so I hold back, take a deep breath, and maybe reflect his frustration back to him.

 

Patience 101

And then a second later, almost before I know it my hand is reaching out to steady a tile for him, giving him pointers, “suggesting” a solution. I have to keep reminding myself over and over again – patience. Just breathe. You don’t need to do anything.

 

It goes against something inherent inside of me and yet with practice I’m finding that sometimes it kicks in all by itself. Those moments where everything just flows – there’s an element of automatic patience at play. Just letting things be without acting on the need to get involved, to fix,  to meddle.

No easy feat but totally worth it when it works – for the look on GG’s face when he makes the tower all by himself. Or when I get to arrive home calm and proud of myself for managing to follow through with a minor task I set myself just for fun.

Said, woman, take it slow
It’ll work itself out fine
All we need is just a little patience
Said, sugar, make it slow
And we come together fine
All we need is just a little patience

– Guns N’ Roses

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