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Feb 09

Writing Lessons from Mom: Patience

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I prefer to do my grocery shopping at unusual hours, usually around 4AM. My reasons are simple: I hate waiting and I loathe crowds. But, due to a hectic work schedule and a great deal of procrastination, I was recently forced leave my cocoon in the middle of the afternoon in search of sustenance.

What I found instead was chaos.

I ended up in line behind a harassed looking young woman and what I assumed was her son. The kid couldn’t have been more than three or four but, boy howdy, did he have a set of lungs on him. The good news was that our checkout aisle had just opened, so we were the first two customers in line. The bad news was that it was one of the candy aisles.

The boy asked for a chocolate bar. The mother refused.

And then all hell broke loose.

Now, as sorry as I felt for the poor mother, I felt even sorrier for myself. She had obviously learned how to tune out screaming tantrums, but not having any children, I have yet to develop that superpower. I tried to back away and find another checkout station – and damn the short line – but then a woman with not one, but two carts, both overflowing with food, pulled in right behind me. There was no escape. It only took about ten minutes for the mother to pay for her groceries and cart her son away, but it felt like hours. I left the store that day, vowing never to return during daylight.

I never threw tantrums when I was a kid, especially not in public. As I’ve mentioned before, my mother is 6’4”…and she had no problem with corporal punishment. If I acted out in public, she’d not only smack me in the middle of the store, she’d spank me again when we got home.

It was double jeopardy, folks. And I was smart enough to know that candy wasn’t worth it.

Shopping with my mother taught me a lot about patience. I had to time my requests just right. Ask too soon, she’d get irritated. Wait too long and she would be too tired. The best time to ask for a treat was near the mid-point of the shopping trip, and then only if I had been extremely helpful and quiet. But sometimes, even the best behavior wouldn’t help. If she didn’t want to buy me anything that day, then she wouldn’t. That was it. Case closed.

Asking again would only get me into trouble.

But if I kept quiet, chances were I’d get the next thing I asked for as a reward.

I’m trying to apply the same principles to my writing. I’ve learned to accept refusals and move on to the next thing. Eventually, if I’m patient, diligent and persistent, I know I’ll get what I want, whether it’s a publishing contract or a candy bar.

I just have to wait until 4AM to pick them up.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/02/writing-lessons-from-mom-patience/

2 comments

  1. Melinda VanLone

    LOL! I don’t have kids either and I’ve had much the same thoughts when trapped in line with parents of toddlers. I know they aren’t happy about the display either but these days if they do anything about it they get more glares and judgement than if they just let the kid scream. I guess kudos to the mom for not shoving sugar into the kid’s mouth just to shut him up. Sometimes I wish there were child-free grocery stores lol. I tried going at midnight once…I was amazed how many kids were still up. If you think that’s bad, never ever go to WalMart….pretty sure some parents use that place as a playground after dark.

    1. justjacqui2

      Yes. I thought it was great that she didn’t give in, and I applaud her restraint. My mother is blind so she literally couldn’t see the glares people directed at her when she disciplined me. And if anyone dared speak up, she would draw herself up to her full 6’4″ height and tell them to mind their own business. (Needless to say, most people left us alone.)

      Oy! Kids in the grocery stores at midnight? Doesn’t that qualify as bad parenting? I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot worse than a smack on the bottom.

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