J’adore Le Petit Prince! What wisdom contained in that book! I saw this quote today and it was exactly what I needed. You see, I’ve been impatient lately with my kids. Truth be told, I’m impatient a lot. “Hi, my name is Maeve and I’m impatient with my kids.” Sort of feels like that kind of admission, you know?
It is definitely one of my “challenges” in life right now. I am a single mother of one teenaged girl and one tween boy with a lot on my plate like most of us, and impatience get the best of me more than I care to admit.
My kids and I move at different paces. I am a “”let’s get it done quickly” person, you know the type – it’s always easier for me to do it type then wait for them to do it themselves (my son might be in his 20’s before he cuts his own food!) and they are, well, not. It is frustrating. Take for instance my 11 year old, he just can’t do anything fast. Getting dressed in the morning can take me calling up to him 5 times in 20 minutes. Do you know what he is doing up there? I don’t know either but he hears that question often, “What are you DOING up there?” That is usually when the yelling kicks in and we have a miserable start to our day together. Exactly like this morning.
Guy Kawoski says, “Patience is the art of hiding your impatience” and this I do often with my children. Because they try my patience a lot. A lot. As the Little Prince is indicating, children are coming from a different place – something akin to Astroid 345. Sometimes I think my kids look at me like I am an alien – they are totally confused by what I want them to do, why I want them to do it and why it has to be done NOW.
For example, they don’t understand why the garbage has to go out right this minute, instead of say, after they finish what they are “doing” – laying on the couch watching tv. (The reason, by the way, is because I am cooking dinner and if I have to open that too full garbage can one more time and try to squash it down while getting coffee grinds and left over nachos on my hand, well, I won’t be happy.) But I get it. They don’t have the worries and to-do lists hanging over their heads all the time like I do on planet Earth. They don’t have “matters of consequence”, as the Little Prince says, to contend with. To them, time is truly on their side. They have all the time in the world- to get dressed, brush their teeth, take out the garbage, bring me that turniquet while I bleed to death. Their priorities are different. To them, “serious matters” are those of the imagination.
Children are different creatures from the adults they will soon enough transform into and we adults forget this – more often than we should. Sometimes, we are in a hurry for them to grow up. Especially when they are earnestly contemplating just how much force is necessary to break the pencil they are doing homework with, daydreaming about dating a One Direction member out loud the moment you climbed into a warm bed on a cold night to read your book or the details of how they will take care of their new pet iguana if you agree to buy them one as a pet – for the hundredth time.
Earlier, while I was trying to pay bills online, my son asked me, “If you had to choose between being a dog living with a nice family who loved you and played with you all the time or being a service pet that helped someone who was blind but who wasn’t very fun or affectionate, what dog would you be?” What?!? He wanted to have a whole conversation about it and he had a lot of ideas on the subject. I must admit during these times, I often give him a quick answer and keep working on whatever it is I’m doing while he rambles away – not really paying attention to him. But tonight after reading the The Little Prince quote, I stopped, put down my Ipad, and looked him in the eye and said,
“I guess I am being a little selfish but I would rather be like our dog Murphy. Loved and having fun. I feel sort of like I already am a ”service“ dog and I’d like to be the other kind for awhile.”
We had a 5 minute discussion on it. 5 minutes is all it took but sometimes, it feels like I don’t have 5 minutes. You know? But I do when I choose to. I do have 5 minutes for them to be heard, to acknowledge their thoughts and feelings as important, to let them know that they are important. Because sometimes telling them they are and knowing in our hearts that they are the most important people in our lives, frankly, isn’t good enough. We have to show them in way that they can know it. Because if you think that the endless day in and day out cleaning, shopping, making meals, homework help or researching the best dyslexia tutors within a 30 mile radius is speaking their language, you would be wrong. They will get that later – when they land on planet Earth and have their own children! For now, feeling important to you is all about making what is important to them, important to you. And really, does that really change for us as adults? As Oprah says everyone shares a common desire. They want to know, “Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?”
Having patience with my children in every regard is something I am continually working on. With the important stuff to me – school work, making sure they catch the school bus so I can make Yoga class, or helping out around the house but also with the important stuff to them – listening to Minecraft strategy, who is their favorite Pokemon character or the details of Harry Styles birthday celebration again.
Some of the most profoundly sacred moments in my life now come when I have the opportunity to help create and hold a space for my children to think out loud — to validate what matters to them.
As Thich-Nhat-Hanh “When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?”
I’m guessing this works with everyone.
grosses bises, maeve