‘Not the “P” word Mum!’
In our house, we didn’t worry so much about the ‘F’ word (not that it was allowed either). What my middle son struggled with was the ‘P’ word. It was the one word which limited his forward drive, which made him wait—patience.
This son is much like his mother.
In my early days of teaching, my one consistent prayer was for patience. I needed patience with the young children I had in my class. I needed patience to accept their foibles without becoming overly frustrated with them.
I must have prayed the same prayer every day for a whole year. ‘Dear Lord, please give me patience today.’ And every day I’d come home feeling that I’d done nothing but growl at the children in my class, that all day I’d worn a frown or showed a down-turned mouth to my class.
Patience—I just didn’t seem to have any.
Fast forward a decade. By then I’m the mother of two energetic boys and I don’t do as much teaching, just casual work.
On a holiday with another family, with eight of us in a two-bedroom house, the other mother happened to mention how patient I was. I was floored, as I didn’t see myself as patient.
After all, two young boys can try anyone’s patience! But someone else saw me as patient.
Perhaps all those prayers had been answered.
As I looked back over my life, as a teacher and as a mum, I realised it was only when the temptation to be impatient arose that I could learn to be patient. Patience doesn’t grow when there is no urge to be frustrated and angry, or jump up and down at the inconsistencies of others.
This need to learn patience is an age-old one. The writer of the book of Proverbs noted that, ‘Patient people have great understanding, but people with quick tempers show their foolishness’ (Proverbs chapter 14, verse 29).
Patience is not something most of us have inherently—it’s something we have to learn over time. And now it’s my middle son’s turn.
He is now a father of two energetic young girls. And, yes, he is developing patience as he learns to bear their childish understanding and behaviour.
Patience does not come when we want it (often right now). It grows over time.
There is still the ‘P’ word in our family—it has become something of a family joke—but we are all in the process of developing it and learning to appreciate the understanding that it brings.