Home > General, Patience and Foortitude > Patience and Foortitude, part 1

Patience and Foortitude, part 1

As I sit on the couch reading Harold’s Circus for the third time in a row in my best storyteller’s voice, with all 3 kids intently listening, I congratulate myself for being such an amazing parent. After all, repetition is good for babies and James lives for things being repeated to him no less than 10 times. The Purple Crayon series is a quality, cleverly written book and I am further fostering my children’s love for reading, one of the great successes in our family. The babies have had several hours outside in the fresh air, James has finished his homework and watched a movie, and dinner has been made ahead of time to facilitate an orderly bedtime. I am awesome.

Flash forward to 3 hours later, when I am furiously whispering to James that he can’t come home with us if he doesn’t stop right now and that he will have to find another family at church that will take him in for the night. The baby is crying, my 2 yr old is trying to run up the aisle and for God’s sake the priest has been giving us a blow by blow of the entire bulletin for the last 15 minutes. I wanted to stay for the last song because I knew James and my daughter loved “This Little Light of Mine” but finally in the midst of utter chaos I give up and began to pack our things. I lean over to James and tell him to get his coat on because we have to leave now. He says “no”. While whining is not unusual for James, a flat out “no” is pretty shocking. I tell him again, and again he opts to disagree. Finally I start to leave the pew and James in his panic not to be left loudly follows, crying, pulling his fleece on backwards, screaming about being stuck in the fleece, yelling about it not being time to leave yet.  I walk ahead of him determined to ignore him, which only makes him run a block ahead of me every time he falls behind so that won’t have to find another family to live with when he is left behind. I tightly grab his hand so that he doesn’t run ahead into the street and he screams “Let go you’re hurting me’ and I am sure at this point that everyone on the block thinks I am abusing him now. I tell him he can have a bowl of cereal and go right to bed. It is 7:15pm.

For Lent I gave up swearing and promised to be more patient with the kids. The swearing part is going okay. The patience part is becoming more of a guilt trip than anything. In fact, I think I am actually becoming less patient because after I get impatient with the kids I am annoyed that they made me break my Lent promise.

I always associate patience with fortitude because of a book I read to James and my 2 yr old daughter about the NYPL lions, named Patience and Fortitude. However,  I don’t think they go together so naturally in real life. I think I have fortitude down pretty well.  When I looked it up the definition is listed as “mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger or temptation courageously; resolute endurance.”  If there’s something I’ve learned over the last 10 years, it is definitely resolute endurance.

It’s not unusual for our days to go something like the above. I desperately want to be one of those parents that keeps a level head and sends their misbehaving children to a time-out without raising their voice. After all, I am the adult and yelling or screaming is for the kids, who lack the wisdom and experience of self control. I know that I am not teaching them anything good by yelling or threatening but it is easy to fall into and it gets the job done faster sometimes. Then comes the regret afterward, that frustrating feeling equivalent with eating a pint of ice cream after working hard all day to stay on your diet.

It’s been kind of awesome lately watching my very tempestuous 2 yr old daughter start to grow out of the tantruming phase. Even at her worst and on her craziest days, I was able to tell myself that she would grow out of it soon, and she is.  It is a very different kind of feeling with James. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time James is incredibly well-behaved, which makes the situation somehow harder. He is not usually in trouble for talking back, hitting, or tantruming. He only escalates to hysteria after he gets “in trouble” for making repetitive or disgusting noises, asking the same question more than 10 times in a row, talking out loud to himself in public, tracing over every letter of a word for 30 minutes instead of doing his homework, taking literally 15 minutes to put a shoe on, wetting his pants because he was playing a video game, crying because his 2 yr old sister took a baby toy from him, refusing to put on his “big” coat when it’s 20 degrees outside, not taking a bite of cereal for a half hour in the morning after a dozen reminders, and on and on.

9 out of 10 times I don’t raise my voice when I ask James to put his shoes on in the morning. Okay, realistically 7 out of 10. It is the 8th time and onward that I begin to feel crazy. Or if I’m being brutally honest, it’s the 5th time when my 2 yr old is running around the house naked with one of his shoes because he hasn’t put it on yet and now James is crying because she stole his shoe, or even the 3rd time when you add to that a crying infant. For some reason, the reassuring fact that the younger two will “grow out of it” and knowing that James won’t has become his “fault,” and it’s not fair. To either of us.

This is only part 1 because I have barely scratched the surface – though I am trying I am sure I will lose my patience a thousand more times, probably 10 more just today. But starting the discussion among others is one way to avoid expensive therapy and also hold myself accountable. I encourage you to leave a comment below with your experience, tricks that works, or anything else you’d like to share.

This morning James woke up, got dressed with only 1 reminder, ate his breakfast in only 3 reminders and even got his shoes and coat on in under 5 reminders. He was pleasant, and I was patient. Or was it the other way around?

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  1. March 24, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    OMG this was me tonight. It got to the point where I gave MYSELF a time out, after this happened:
    Me: STOP CRYING RIGHT NOW OR YOU’RE GOING TO BED WITHOUT ANY STORIES!!!
    K: (thru the tears) We’re crying because you’re yelling!
    Me: I’M YELLING BECAUSE YOU AREN’T DOING WHAT I TELL YOU TO DO!

    That’s harsh on K because 85% of my aggravation was P & M (mostly P). That’s when I say “Mommy’s taking a time out, stay in your room until I get back.” When I came back 7 or so minutes later, they are calmly looking at books on P’s bed, and have even picked out books specially on M’s behalf. C’est la vie.

  2. Courtney
    March 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Beautifully written, my friend. Since I also have no patience, I have no advice. You are probably too young for this– do you know the old show “Candid Camera”? Sometimes I imagine that there’s a hidden camera recording what I’m doing/saying/screaming, and that it will be replayed nationally later on. Then I put on lipstick. 🙂

    I love how you measure time in reminders. I’m gonna steal that.

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