It’s no guarded parental secret that a child’s wild fire and love of life doesn’t easily submit to tasks and chores, to the daily demands of keeping house or staying the course.
The understandable temptation in the hubbub of modern life is to keep our child otherwise occupied, perhaps hooked up to another channel of entertainment, as we dive again into the dishes or the gathering dust.
What is lost, if we regularly do, is the child’s learning to endure moments that don’t readily feed the fire, that don’t deliver excitement or pacification or both.
What is gained, if we don’t succumb to temptation, is something less immediate than a distraction and therefore a bit harder to gage and harder to insist upon.
Through our willingness to bind our child to moments that hold no promise of gratification, now or later, she gains some familiarity with patience.
Patience, abiding by what is without recourse to immediate relief, endurance, submission to the hard and unsatisfying work at hand without a promise of either praise or recompense.
It’s hard work for a child, and adults, to practice patience. Few of us are willingly subjected to adversity. Few of us are likely to thank anyone who insists we endure the unjust suffering of sweeping the floor or cleaning our room, or worse.
Chances are, though, that a child familiar with patience will one day know something worth knowing about the work of tending a steady fire, even on the inevitable day when the storm draws near, a day when warmth and light is most needed.