I was at my Moms group last week when somebody asked me, “How do you stay patient while you let L do things for herself?”
I said, “Are you kidding me? I’m not patient at all! I’m screaming in my head the whole time!”
Truth. Consider that image of me shattered. Patience is definitely not one of my natural virtues. Unfortunately, it’s something that is necessary when dealing with young children (or people in general!). So how do I do it? You fake it until you make it, my friends.
My therapist will tell you that I’m very good at hiding my emotions. Downfall for my psychological well-being, but a definite plus when it comes to interacting with my children. There are many days — no, MOST days — when I want to scream, tear my hair out, and grab the sock from L so I can just put it on myself! In less than 5 minutes! While remaining focused on the task at hand the whole time!
And you know what? Sometimes I fail. And I grab the sock and shove it on L’s foot.
It doesn’t really make me feel any better. Then I have a screaming child who just wanted to do it “BY MYSELF!!!!” and we still lose half an hour of our day. Except now, instead of spending that half hour gaining self-care, fine motor, and independence skills, L has spent it having a meltdown on the bathroom floor. And I’m still screaming in my head — and sometimes out loud, too.
On my better days, I fake it. Honestly, I zone out. I don’t watch as the sock catches on one toe and L just keeps trying to pull it on. I don’t watch as she decides it doesn’t feel quite right and takes it off to start again. I pretend that I am not spending a good part of my day sitting on the bathroom floor with a naked toddler. I fake it until I actually feel patient.
I’m sure there’s a better way to be a patient parent. But for those of you who struggle with it like me, just fake it. Think about the future, when surely (SURELY, right?!) that child will be pulling those socks on like a champ. Or even further into the future, when you’re old and feeble and your now-grown child has to put your socks on for you. Then, you’ll be glad you let her do it herself all those years ago.