We have a bit of a running joke, my husband and I. It’s about wine, but not that kind of wine to which our minds immediately turn. It’s the more annoying brand: whine. I venture that anyone whose ever been the parent of a preschooler has been subjected to enough doses of whine to make them want to turn to the other more popular adult brand, wine, for relief. When talking about wine, we will often turn to one another, turning on our very best whiny voice and say “But, I waaaaanted to go to Florrrrrrida.” And, since people say that wine and cheese go so well together, we will often also quip about whining by saying “Do you want a little cheese to go with that whine?”
While we can joke around about whining, it brings about a certain truth: whining is a rather cruel, but effective, tool that a child can pull on their parent. Whining is not funny. You know the whine, you’ve experienced it, that high pitched, rather long and drawn out nasally sound that can grate on your nerves faster than dragging fingernails over a chalkboard. If you’re anything like me you may be cringing in your seat right as you read this.Yup, nothing comical about whining at all.
As those who know me well will attest, I can, occasionally at times, exhibit minor impatience. Ok, I can hear your laughter right now – minor impatience? What an understatement that is! It seems to me that perhaps my biggest downfall is impatience. Now that’s really the truth. So, when my son would start to whine, I could move from being pleasant into feeling like I wanted to pull all the hair out of my head faster than a Dodge Challenger can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds flat.
I don’t deal well with whining. I vividly remember being stuffed into my rather smallish vehicle with a friend, her two children, and my son. It was rather hot, we were on our way to meet our husbands for what we hoped would be a marvelously fun weekend of camping. Fortunately the car had air conditioning. Nate and Jeff were in the backseat, and Jeff’s little sister, Sammy (Samantha) was sitting in between the two boys. Back in those days, Sammy was the whiner of all whiners. If there was an international championship for all whiners, I think Sammy would have won. And sure enough, being true to form, the whining started. Sammy didn’t want to sit between the boys, and the boys didn’t’ want Sammy between them either. Everything bothered Sammy. She had been running around playing before she was inserted into the car, sandwiched between the two boys. She was hot, she was sweaty, she was thirsty, she was hungry, and worst of all Sammy didn’t want to wear her shoes. So, off the shoes came. And the aroma that filled my rather smallish car could be likened to smell of fresh Limburger cheese. It was almost enough to make our eyes water. I wanted to immediately roll down the windows in the car, but it was hot, hot, hot. The reaction to that smell drove the boys right over the edge. Jeff and Nate proceeded to get verbal towards Sammy real quick, matching the speed of the aforementioned Dodge Challenger. And, the whining commenced, not only from our championship whiner, but also the two boys. The fevered pitch of whining reverberated from all sides of the vehicle. Sammy was told, in no uncertain terms, to put her shoes back on. And, while I thought that she had already reached terminal velocity on my imaginary scale of whining, I was wrong, dead wrong. For 45 minutes this epic battle ensued. All within the confines of my rather smallish car. I should have given a medal to Sammy’s mother, Sarajane, she really hung in there. I, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well. By the time we made it to the campground I was exhausted. Recovery, on my part, was rather slow, painfully slow.
If we don’t deal with whining from our child, our lovable, adorable preschooler can become a monster of epic proportions. We know that we need to model the right, acceptable behavior to the child, so that they can grow up to be a reasonably decent person. We know things that they don’t. We understand the world through our experiences. We must teach our children the right way to deal with frustrations. Some children will accept our instructions easily, other, those strong-willed children may be entirely another matter.
Over my lifetime, I’ve had to teach myself some lessons as well. I’ve had to learn how to reign in my impatience. Sometimes I am wildly successful, other times not so much. I’m still a work in process. I know that I have to research, follow examples, and model the behavior of others that I observe. When I think about patience I have a few good examples from the Bible that I can use: Jacob worked seven years for Rachel, David waited approximately 15 years before he became king, and God spoke to Noah about the great flood some approximate 75-120 years before the flood happened. That’s some prime examples of patience and perseverance. If they can wait with patience, then perhaps I can also.
But, the biggest example of patience that I can site is God Himself. Time after time, after time, God displays His infinite patience with steadfast love, despite our rather childlike whining and temper tantrums. I don’t deserve God’s patience and mercy, you don’t deserve it either. But, still He gives us infinite chances, and agape love. That’s a prime example for me to follow.
Do you have other examples of patience that you can share with me?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22, ESV)