“I don’t like to wait, Nana.”
My first thought was, “dear Daniel, you have a lot of waiting ahead of you in life.”
My next thought was “I don’t like to wait either!”
We were at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The National Park Ranger had given us a time to ascend to the top, all 257 steps. They limit the number of people in the lighthouse at any given time so that everyone is safe, and to maximize each individual’s viewing opportunity. Our time slot was 30 minutes away.
I can understand Daniel’s impatience. The lighthouse was so beautiful, towering over us on a clear October day. We had just eaten our picnic lunch in the park and we had told the children that we would climb the lighthouse after we finished our lunch.
Now we had to wait.
Waiting is part of life.
Yet our culture is programmed for INSTANT response, isn’t it? Not only can we access information all the time most everywhere, we are constantly being enticed to acquire faster service with more data capacity. No wonder our children don’t like to wait!
How can we help our children and grandchildren (and ourselves for that matter) learn to wait with patience and grace?
- be an example of waiting with patience ourselves
when we are placed in situations where we must wait, like traffic jams, long lines in the store, for food in restaurants, for a family member getting ready – we must show patience ourselves. Our irritation for waiting will send a strong message.
- talk to our children about why we must wait
explain that many things in life require waiting, like a child being born, for instance, and we must wait for these occurrences patiently. Young children may not understand the concept of time, but they will understand our example of irritation or patience.
- create “waiting games” that help the child learn to use time in positive ways
digital devices can be positive tools in our lives, but pressing a “game” in front of a child whenever the child must wait will create a new set of problems. Look around you and name colors, count people, find objects that start with “b”. Use the time to plan a special dinner, a birthday party (that the child must WAIT for), have the child write out your shopping list, even if they can only write the first letter of a word
- be prepared to wait
carry in your car, bag, large purse – some “waiting” items. Paper to write Grandma a letter (YES!), a coloring book and crayons or pencils, a small book to read, or ask the child to tell you the story using the illustrations. Use waiting time to count money and explain the various values of coins. (not as effective with plastic!)
Sometimes we must wait for YEARS before something happens that we hope and pray for. Yet God is faithful, especially as we wait.
Isaiah 40: 30-31 says this about waiting –
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.