Kindergartners amaze me sometimes. I took my class to the library yesterday and they sat down on the floor to wait for me to call each table group for a turn at the book shelves. It’s a routine we’ve practiced for two weeks. But yesterday morning the librarian asked us to wait for a few extra minutes so she could process some books that had just been returned. I told her “No problem. We can practice waiting quietly.” One of my girls looked up and said, “Patience is a virtue”, and smiled.
Now I know she’s heard that from a parent or other family member. She didn’t just make it up. However, to apply it to the correct situation not only shows comprehension, but an understanding of the difference between just “waiting” and waiting with a certain dignity and consideration. I thought about that for the rest of the day.
Our society is losing the virtue of patience. Perhaps we never really grasped it in the first place. My husband’s grandmother was fond of saying “Patience is a virtue, and man hath neither.” I don’t know. I just know that as I look around at drivers on the highway and customers in stores I see people in a hurry. I see people who take risks and anger others and exhaust themselves because they are in such a rush to be somewhere else and do something else. I see people who give up easily when times get tough. I see people depending on others to do things they are unwilling to learn to do for themselves.
I get as over-scheduled as the next person. I get stressed. I sometimes drive a little too fast, but not often, and certainly not as often as I did when I was younger. I take things slower these days. I have more patience. I don’t get as anxious about what might happen if I’m a little late for something. I don’t get as apprehensive about learning something new. (And even if I do have a tantrum about something new, like my phone, I try again.) I think teaching kindergarten has a lot to do with that.
Adults think kindergartners have attention problems. Adults think children spend too much time playing and not enough time doing “important things” like reading and writing and competing in sports. But if you really pay attention to them children will teach you the true meaning of patience. These little ones work for months to learn to write their names. They spend hours and hours learning how to read. They tie and re-tie their shoes a million times before they can do it correctly. They try again and again and again.
Yes, children understand the difference between waiting and patience.
Patience is doing what you need to do, for as long as you need to do it.
Patience is a virtue and children have both.