Sunday, January 20, 2008

Patience, Squishy Oatmeal, and Another Heart

Patience. I suppose there is something very appropriate about the fact that it takes a long time to learn patience, isn't there? I will be 42 very soon, and I still haven't learned to be patient in all situations. I have learned to be patient in traffic, since questioning the intelligence of the driver in front of you doesn't really do anything to raise his pitiable IQ-- it only serves to raise your own blood pressure. I have learned to be patient cooking bacon, since cranking up the burner pretty much guarantees charred bits of fat clinging to limp, still half raw meat-- and quite possibly a smoke alarm bleeping louder than your own cursing. I have learned to be patient while standing in line at the store, since taking over the cash register yourself or grabbing her purse and counting those last pennies for the frugal person who can't seem to find that 27th penny is generally frowned upon in civilized circles-- and it wouldn't matter, because the one time you did that would probably be the same time you forgot the one thing you had to have from the store, and there you'd be, wanting to say "wait a minute while I run back to the dairy case, pretty please".

I could tell you all of the situations which still try my patience, but I'm not sure either of us has the patience to write it all out or read it all once it is written!

One of those situations involves teaching children to have patience. Argh!! You just can't rush the acquirement of patience. . .and who am I, impatient still at my age, to expect a 5 or 6 year old to have a grasp on it?

So, what's my plan for teaching patience? Since leading by example isn't going to be enough of an example for them if I'm the example (didja catch all that?), then experience has to be the teacher here. Katie learned fairly early (since she was already bossy at a fairly early age) that if Mommy says the frozen waffles aren't quite toasted, then maybe you should be patient and wait instead of taking a bite of that soggy lukewarm Eggo Mommy retrieved from the oven just for you. She also learned that it's much better to change your idea of which pair of jeans is absolutely essential to wear today than to insist Mommy retrieve your favorites from the dryer "right now," since half-dried jeans really don't pull up very easily, if at all.

Do you know what has happened in the process of teaching impatient Kate to be patient Kate? James hasn't developed much patience. Another impatient question from me: When does a parent get to feel successful at parenting, temporary though it may be?? Anyway, this morning James learned to have patience when it comes to oatmeal, if not when it comes to anything else. We like steel cut oats, cooked with milk, mixed with a little brown sugar and cinnamon. Mmmmmm, don't like regular oatmeal at all, but steel cut oats fixed this way have a yummy "squishy" texture. Squishy is James' description, not sure it sounds yummy but they really do taste good if you let them cook long enough to reach this stage.

This morning, James learned that if Mom says the oatmeal is almost done but not quite ready, then the bowl she fixes for you ahead of everyone else's just might be a little less "squishy" than you like. It's edible, but not quite as enjoyable. He was quite happy to wait patiently while Mom finished cooking his oatmeal to the "squishy" stage.

I'm not sure there's a moral of the story today, since learning patience seems to be a lifelong struggle for some of us, but I can almost guarantee you this much: If my mom or dad read this, the next time I try to sneak a bowl of chili before it's simmered long enough or try to finish a project before the previous layer of paint has had time to cure, I will most certainly hear, "Patience, AnFaye, patience." :)

P.S. The sculpture in the picture will be in my Etsy shop later today, I'm having a little trouble being patient with the picture taking but I'm working on it. . .

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