First Be Patient with Yourself

Driving along with windows down, warm spring air rushes into our ears and lungs. From the back seat, “Where does wind come from?”

The question stumps me.In the car final

Incessant questions stream from the back seat while he and I are running errands, driving to preschool, and truth be told anytime we’re in the car and he’s not asleep. Let me tell you, it’s exhausting. I know you fellow parents understand.

A child’s curiosity doesn’t automatically guarantee a parent’s patience to quench the thirst for information. Being a living encyclopedia while also mentally making a grocery list, (not so) happily playing block house for the umpteenth time, or carefully dodging cars in the pedestrian walkway in front of Target holding a squirming toddler’s hand does not come naturally.

To meet a child’s needs, you must first meet your own needs.

In the case of developing the patience to respond to a child coherently when all you really want to say is “uh huh” or “hmmmmm,” begins by living in the moment and being patient with yourself.

No one has all the answers, even parents. If you act patiently with yourself throughout the day, as you complete one project before moving onto another or remain calm in a traffic jam making you late to after school pick up, then you will be more able to be patient with your child’s questions. Remember, the questions you get will be tougher and more important as the child grows older. You want him to know he can ask you anything.

First, allow yourself to consider the inquiry. Rather than pushing aside a genuine request from your child to think about what’s for dinner, repeat the question and ask the child to answer. This gives you time to get in the moment and think of a reply.

If the child is too young or isn’t likely to know the answer then follow up with an age-appropriate, rational explanation. I attempt to answer my son’s constant curiosity with vigilant and intelligent responses.

“Because I said so” and “Because God made it that way” don’t seem like adequate replies to serious queries.

Even before a child starts talking, everyday is a new chance to explore and discover the people, places and things making up the world. For my son and I, the age of questions began right about three-years-old and picked up steam after his fifth birthday.

My adherence to scientific explanations lasted several rounds. I handled “what makes a rainbow?” and “where does the sun go at night?” For some reason, the wind question took the wind out of my sails. I rigged up an answer somewhere between “I’ll have to look that up, buddy,” and “Let’s ask Popeye if he knows.” Luckily, granddad knows.

We finished our drive that afternoon with my identity as the all-knowing mommy intact. Honestly, it’s impossible to keep that façade going for long. By being patient with myself first, I realize I don’t have to, and that’s okay.

 

I first wrote this piece for the March edition of “My Own Path” in Front Porch Fredericksburg, but the edition did not go to print because my dear friend Rob Grogan, Front Porch editor, passed away on February 23, 2014. Patience and perspective, especially in the face of adversity, are things Rob taught me through his own way of living.

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