Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Patience, Or the Lack Thereof

A lot of people have assumed that I have a great deal of patience.  It seems to be a common assumption, because my fellow Special Ed. teachers tell me that they often hear "You must be so patient to do what you do!"  I feel like I need to set the record straight.  I don't think that I am any more patient than the average person; I think I am just patient in certain situations.

For example, I am patient with the screaming, spitting, kicking, hitting child who is frustrated because she can't communicate what she's feeling.  She is imprisoned by the physical limitations of her mouth and tongue--not her brain.  I get that.  We all have things that handicap us from saying what we feel or think.  For most of us that are able-bodied, we handicap ourselves with fear of what others will think or do.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you.  But it can be, and when it holds us back or keeps us from being understood, then it is a very bad thing.  So, when I am maintaining my composure in the midst of a child's meltdown, it is because I imagine how hard it must be for her to feel something, but not be able to say it. 

Generally speaking, I am patient with children.  I think that this is mostly because they don't know better.  As the old saying goes, "When you know better, you do better."  I find that as children get older and should know better, I get less patient.  I also find that if I am very tired, I have very little patience.  Sleep does wonders for our ability to persevere.  I make it a point to try and get as much sleep as I can.  The times in my life when I am the least patient with my own children are those times when I am exhausted, and maybe a little frustrated, and I have my own little meltdown.  It happens.

On the other hand, I find as I get older that my patience wears thin with certain things.  I don't like it when others are disrespectful.  I don't like drama.  I hate it, actually.  I think that we are becoming a society quick to turn little things into big ones.  I think that the simple courtesies in life are becoming quaint notions of the past:  Being polite; being kind; treating others the way you would want to be treated; etc.  All Biblical values, by the way.  I think that one of the frustrations that I have with the life we lead is the transient nature of people in general.  If I don't like something, I'll just get rid of it and get another--that can be anything from an iPad to a friend.  If I don't like how things are going here, I'll go there.  We don't really have to work out our differences, we'll just avoid the problems altogether by moving on to greener pastures.  So, the pastures we leave behind become malnourished due to inattention.  We leave behind fallow land, looking for a fertile valley. 

So, am I a patient person?  Maybe not as much as you think.  I enjoy working with children with special needs, frankly, because I like to work in a career that is rife with miracles.  There is the potential to see amazing things every day.  I dig that.  I think it's cool that I get to do this.  But, I'm no saint, as my family and close friends will attest.  I think I just have a lot of self-control....

Many blessings,


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