Thursday, February 25, 2010

Obstacles in the cultivation of patience and a few suggestions for a remedy

I am, I think, over all, a fairly patient person, although my kids frequently show me those areas where I can really use some improvement.  I do get a little bent out of shape when my schedules fall apart, or when I feel rushed because dinner is running really late, or when we are getting out late for Mass on Sunday, or someone invades my little bit of jealously guarded personal time (usually this is Gemma deciding not to go to bed before me). 

Life moves faster and faster in our time.  When you see old commercials for cars, or cigarettes, or appliances from the earliest days of television you note that they seem to go on forever.  In truth they were only a minute or two in length, but we went from those to 30-second commercials, to 15 second commercials.  And the computer age has made everything faster still.  We groan inwardly when a site takes more than second or two to load.  Perhaps the best lessons we can teach our kids are those that teach patience.  Here are a few thoughts on what one can do to foster patience in our kids.

1)  Bake bread now and then instead of getting it from the store.  For me, carbohydrate freak that I am, this is the ultimate in delayed gratification.  I still have one heck of a time waiting for the loaf to cool before I slice off a heel and slather it with homemade butter.

2)  When you place an order for something, make it a mail order and pay by check.  Wow, I do remember when I lived in Munich twenty five years ago and I used to order books from the USA by mail.  Oh, the joy when the package of books finally arrived after 3 or 4 weeks!

3)  Use the change jar to save for something you really want but don't really need.  I have done this on several occasions, one time saving $80 for an outdoor statue of the Blessed Mother I wanted.  My kids love to help me sort out the change and count coins for rolling.  It really inspires them to save their own change for a coveted toy.

4)  Eating foods in season.  Yes, I know that I can have strawberries in January if I so desire, but buying local helps us to eat in season, and thus we have to wait for the fruits of each season.  Exception: bananas. 

5)  Plant a flower garden.  Veggies are good, too, but there is something wonderful that happens with kids and flowers.  Plant something sturdy, like zinnias.

6)  Learn to knit, crochet, embroider, carve or play an instrument.  Knitting is great for patience.  You have no idea how many times I have to unravel a number of rows because I just found out that there was a mistake way back in my project that I couldn't overlook. 

7)  Find a penpal.  How many people of my own generation or younger actually write letters anymore?  In the days before I had children and a computer, I used to sometimes hand-write 20-page letters to my sister!  I loved to send cards and postcards to people, and I was delighted to have a few friends who liked to write letters as well.  Now my days are a bit too busy for that, but I look forward to one day having the time to write letters again.

Slow down.  Breathe deep.  Realize that in the rush to "keep up with life" you are likely overlooking great, big, beautiful parts of it.

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