Getting anything one wants, or being constantly buffered from life’s big and little hurts and difficulties makes it way way way more challenging later in life to deal with the difficulties that we all know as adults are going to come our way.
When Scout (the toughest of all my children) was little, she had a hard time with waiting. And everything else. As soon as she knew something was happening, she would start to wind up. We tried initially to combat this by not telling her anything until it was on the brink of happening. This backfired intensely for a couple of reasons.
a) she became suspicious that something was always around the corner so she was always wound up.
b) we gave her no opportunity to be able to handle waiting. We stunted her ability to grow.
We did this primarily because we felt like we couldn’t handle her emotions. And I thought it wasn’t right for such a little person to try to deal with so much emotion.
Because soothing her didn’t really work, distracting her didn’t work and getting mad at her really didn’t work I started a system of the broken record. I started doing this because it felt like a healthier option than getting mad. So, when I said, we are going to Auntie Monica’s later today. And she said, what, when!? I want to leave now!! Why can’t we go now? Why do we always have to wait?! How long til we go, how many more minutes!? I don’t want to eat my lunch, I want to get in the car and go!!
I would say something like, we’ll be leaving at Four. We’ll be in the car for forty five minutes. The ferry leaves at Five. It gave me an outlet of sorts to deal with her. For every question, rant, wail, complaint, I would answer, in my monotone nice voice, we’ll be leaving at Four. We’ll be in the car for forty five minutes. The ferry leaves at Five.
Doesn’t that sound reasonable? Except. It didn’t work. We all ended up frustrated. And so. I learned a new way. Someone suggested to me that I should come along side her instead. Y’know. Empathize. Ew. I thought. I thought it would just feed the rant and wail. But, I tried it.
Is it hard to wait? IHATEIT
I bet you feel like we won’t be there for a hundred days. YESITSSOSTUPID
Would it be easier to wait if we had a little snuggle? Maybe. But I’m still mad at you. Sniff.
Come up on my lap. I’m doing all this rushing around getting ready to go and you’re so frustrated. Sniff. I hate waiting. Its so long. Sob. Sobsob. Sobsobsob. Sniff.
Wow. Look at all those tears. You must have been really mad to have all those tears. Sniff. I was mad. I feel better now.
Well that’s good. Do you want to help me pack some food? Okay. Can we pack gummy bears?
Two each. Okay.
Uh. That worked. So worth it.