Saturday, April 09, 2005

No, I'm not soooo Patient!

I run a home daycare. This means I care for several toddlers and infants in my home. I love my work. It's fun, stimulating, and makes good use of my skills and training. I get to laugh each and every day. Sure, some days I wish my clientele didn't come in and trash my home on a daily basis, but other days, I can't believe I get paid to have this much fun!! Generally, though, it's not the children that cause any wee glitches in my life: it's the adults. Not necessarily their parents, though I've had some doozies! Most of the parents are terrific folk. And most of the adults I come in contact with during my work are enchanted by the kids, and react very nicely to me. But some days.... Something I hear very often is "You must be soooo patient!" I always smile and acknowledge the compliment, because of course it's a compliment. So why, I wondered aloud to my husband, is it annoying me so damned much these days?? "Because", he perceptively commented, "it implies that any doofus can do your job if they're just patient enough." Yeah! It'd be like me telling an investment banker, "Gee, I bet you can add and subtract like lightening, huh??" In fact, I'm not all that patient. I'm often not nearly as patient as the parents of the children I care for - is this why they so often behave better for me? Don't misunderstand: I don't snap at the poor mites if they spill their milk, throw a toy across the room, nor even if someone bites someone else. These things are part of daily life with two-year-olds. If something spills, you help them wipe it up and/or give them a cup with a lid. If something is thrown, you show them how to put it away nicely and warn against it in future. If someone bites, you help them find other ways to express their frustration, and show them how to comfort the injured child. Accidents and spills are an almost unavoidable result of their lack of coordination, and I have lots of patience for it. I don't, however, have endless patience with biting (nor any other aggressive and/or dangerous behaviour). I don't ignore it, and assume it'll go away on its own. I don't excuse the behaviour, because they're tired, or hungry, or angry, or whatever. Indeed, they may be tired, hungry, or angry. I feel those ways, too, and I don't throw things or bite people, tempting as it may be at times. We have to start to learn this kind of self-control early in life, because it's a tough lesson! Therefore, I deal with it promptly, firmly, and confidently expect it to cease. (Biting is a straightforward one: it typically takes no more than three weeks to eradicate). You know what I love to hear when I'm out with my tots? I love to hear you tell me how well-behaved they are. Or how happy they look. Or how cute it is that they all know the actions to the song we're singing. So, when you see a caregiver out with their children, don't coo over how patient they must be. If you do, you may very likely be trying that sainted patience, and tempting fate at the same time... If you comment on their good behaviour or their cheerful demeanour, on how content, or happy, or well-supervised they are -- you are saying something that the caregiver can take solid satisfaction in, a real compliment for a job well done!

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